When budgets are slashed, spending is cut along the falling numbers, which is precisely what many community colleges face during today's economic crunch. Unfortunately, programs are often the victims of penny-pinching, with colleges slashing programs in everything from culinary arts to massage therapy. We will take a look at a few of the community colleges across the country that are facing big challenges in balancing their budgets – and who the real losers will be in the long run.
Cutting Programs at St. Charles
St. Charles Community College in Missouri is just one of the schools in this state that is scrutinizing programs to determine which ones can be cut without hurting student opportunities in popular fields. According to a recent Suburban Journals report, SCC plans to delete five associate degree programs from their course catalog next year: massage therapy, environmental science, electronics engineering technology, industrial maintenance technology, and medical transcription. The programs were listed in a review of public and community college academic programs released by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon.
College officials have stated that the programs slated for the ax have low enrollment numbers, and none have any students currently going through the programs. Michael Banks, SCC vice president of academics and student affairs, told SJ, "These five are not going to impact us and will be gone from the books by June 30." According to school records, none of these programs have graduated students in the last three years. They were on a list of 28 programs that have had low enrollment over the same time frame.
This video offers a look at the culinary arts programs in California community colleges.
California Colleges Line-Iteming Programs
Proposed budget cuts facing California colleges this year could range anywhere from $900,000 to more than $2 million, depending on how the state legislature and California voters decide. With big decisions looming in the not-so-distant future, some California community colleges are already line-iteming their course catalogs to determine which courses they can do without. According to a report at The Union Democrat, Yosemite Community College District, which includes both Modesto and Columbia Junior College, is already taking action to accommodate the upcoming cuts.
In a recent board of trustees meeting at Modesto, a vote was held to issue preliminary layoff notices to 14 district teachers and six members of classified management staff at the school. Layoffs mean fewer courses available and a broader course catalog overall. While high-profile programs that are consistently in demand will not be affected by the budget cuts, those programs that face declining enrollment numbers will be carefully scrutinized. At Modesto, this means the culinary program could face severe cutbacks, while a similar popular program at Columbia will remain intact.
"We are in a state that's been spending money it didn't have. We have to face this reality," Columbia's interim president Richard Jones told the Democrat. "This college has done an excellent job of making cuts in the last three years," Jones added. This discernment has helped the college avoid numerous staff layoffs up to this point.
This video offers an overview of the massage therapy program at Waubonsee Community College,
Bidding Farewell to Programs in Washington
Budget woes have hit hard in Washington as well. Last year, Shoreline Community College had to cut its Cosmetology and Speech-Language Pathology Assistance programs. This year, the school is looking at making even more cuts, although the specific programs that could be on the chopping block have not yet been announced. Rumors have been circulating since November's state revenue forecast added another $385 million to the state deficit.
A spokeswoman from Governor Christine Gregoire's office told the Shoreline-Lake Forest Patch, "The harsh reality is that everything's on the table, including higher education and K-12. The governor is doing her best to create a budget that solves the deficit and limits pain to Washington but it's difficult." The recent announcements have left some Shoreline students worried that their current field of study might be next.
Baltimore City Will Cut 14 Programs
No school is feeling the pain any more than Baltimore City Community College in Maryland. According to a report in the Baltimore Sun, this school recently voted to cut as many as 14-degree programs from its course offerings next year. In addition, the school will be consolidating some degree programs in the medical, legal, and business fields. The cuts and consolidations will impact about 63 programs in all, which currently enroll about 7,000 students. Nine faculty positions will also be cut, according to BCCC president Carolane G. Williams.
Many of the school staff, students, and college officials are less than happy with the news. Some have complained that the college did not go through the proper channels to make these decisions, while others worry that changes have not been properly communicated to students. However, board chairman Garland O. Williamson said that some of the frustration could be attributed to "growing pains."
"Change may cause some angst, but we're moving forward," Williamson told the Sun. "We struggled with how we were going to do this. The process could've been better."
Athletics Getting Rained Out of Budgets
In addition to degree programs getting the ax, athletics programs at many community colleges are also facing a rocky future. According to an article at mlive.com, some community colleges are cutting football, soccer, tennis, and track. Even some of the high-profile teams around the country are not safe from the red pen, as colleges struggle to balance budgets and serve the greatest number of students with dwindling resources.
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