BCCC enrollment up, funding down

Published 1:26 am Wednesday, February 4, 2009

By Staff
Money woes force college to return part of its budget
Managing Editor
Beaufort County Community College is caught in a Catch-22.
The good news is that the school just celebrated its largest-ever spring enrollment. Classes began Jan. 7,
According to school officials, 1,747 students are enrolled this semester. That nips the previous spring record of 1,716 students in 2003. Spring 2008 enrollment peaked at 1,512 students.
The bad news is that the lousy economy has forced BCCC to try and educate more students without additional funding to help pay related costs.
Faced with its own budget shortfall, North Carolina whacked BCCC with two separate budget reversions in the current fiscal year — the first in September at 2 percent, the second an additional 1 percent in November.
According to Phillip Price, BCCC dean of administrative services, the first reversion eliminated $186,218 from the school’s budget; the second, $93,109.
The college’s budget year runs from July 1 to June 30.
Despite the reversions, BCCC President David McLawhorn noted the school hasn’t eliminated any classes.
The cuts are being felt in other ways, though.
Price sited restrictions on such expenditures as out-of-state travel, supplies and equipment.
The college also is prohibited from filling vacant employee positions unless directly related to classroom instruction, Price added. There are currently no open positions in that category.
Price doesn’t expect further reversions in the current fiscal year, though he won’t bet against one or more in 2009-10.
The cuts, so far, are painful, but not insurmountable, McLawhorn said. Further budget erosion, though, could affect the school’s core product.
According to BCCC Dean of Instruction Wesley Beddard, a variety of factors have contributed to the college’s enrollment increase: Among them are the economic downturn and new BCCC initiatives that make it easier for people to attend college.
Beddard sited enrollment increases in most of the school’s programs, but pinpointed several “recession-proof” categories to which new students have been attracted.
They include automotive technology, basic law-enforcement training, electrical engineering technology and nursing.
Despite the recession and near-term uncertainty, McLawhorn is optimistic about BCCC’s future.
Caption for corresponding photo: Lisa Pitman Boyd, Beaufort County Community College anatomy/physiology coordinator, displays the inner workings of a pig heart on Tuesday to students in her Anatomy/Physiology II class. (WDN Photo/Paul Dunn)