11/24/10 — Wayne Community College looks at budget, future classes

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Wayne Community College looks at budget, future classes

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on November 24, 2010 1:46 PM

Wayne Community College officials are looking at ways to maintain enrollment in curriculum programs for the next two years, while factoring in potential budget shortfalls and a soft economy.

Typically, an economic downturn drives up the numbers returning to community college, signing up for vocational courses or additional training.

That has held true at Wayne Community, where fall enrollment was 3,519 in 2008, then 3,721 in 2009, climbing to its all-time high of 4,004 for the current semester.

"That's a lot of people taking a lot of courses," Dr. Kay Albertson, WCC president, told the board of trustees Tuesday night. "We have added courses, and we're continuing to do that as we project out for the spring."

Across the board, most program areas remained consistent for attracting students. Business and health care-related fields tend to be showing the most growth. Medical and office administration, for example, has gone from 223 two years ago to 337 students enrolled.

Likewise, public safety has had marked increases, from 111 in 2008 to 148 last year. At present, 170 are enrolled in criminal justice and emergency preparedness programs.

Still, officials continue to study which areas to add and when to cut programs that are not as effective.

"We're looking at these programs and looking at budget cuts," board member Keith Stewart said. "How in the world do you start weeding out programs if they're seeing growth in those, also?"

Mrs. Albertson said the answer, in part, relates to the potential job market as much as it does to producing graduates.

"You have to look at other data and what the community demand is," she said. "Usually for every program you start new, you need to be deleting a program."

Not only does the community college anticipate which areas demonstrate growth, such as the business and technology programs, but potential job markets on the horizon.

"There are a couple of programs that we haven't started yet but we know our community could use those workers," she said. "We're trying to project out to the future. Maybe there aren't large numbers of jobs now but there will be in four or five years.

"We don't have any choice but to look at it that way."

Mrs. Albertson said she doesn't anticipate many cuts, especially since areas like college transfer continue to grow.

Registration for the spring semester wrapped up earlier this week, she noted, and again looks very promising.

"We're right at 2,938 pre-registered students, up 400 from this time last fall," she said. "We still have our new student orientation this fall and we also have spring registration (in January and March). I don't know that we'll see that 4,000 number but I think it'll be high. It's an indication of the best bang for the buck."