College prepares its case

Published 11:31 pm Thursday, January 8, 2009

Community colleges nationwide offer affordable access to postsecondary education and workforce training that families, employers and communities will need to weather the current economy.

In an effort to minimize budgetary cuts, Virginia’s community colleges have plans to share three key points with their delegates and senators during the 2009 session of the General Assembly. Representatives from each of the colleges will travel to Richmond to visit with legislators who represent their service regions.

On Jan. 29 and Feb. 5, a PDCCC delegation, including students, will meet with Delegates Chris Jones, Bill Barlow, Roslyn Tyler and Lionell Spruill, as well as Senators L. Louise Lucas and Fred Quayle to stress the following points:

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4Affordability: Especially in times of economic turmoil, Virginia families need an affordable postsecondary option.

Virginia’s Community Colleges embody the Jeffersonian principle of educational access and are the leading provider of postsecondary education to working-class families, minority groups and all those who depend on affordable college access. Tuition averages one-third that of 4-year colleges in Virginia.

Paul D. Camp has the lowest tuition and fees in the Virginia Community College System, with no charge for parking or student activities.

4Access: Virginia’s future requires the protection of postsecondary institutions committed to enrollment growth.

Virginia’s Community Colleges are experiencing record enrollment. Already serving two out of every three undergraduate students in Virginia public institutions, Virginia’s Community Colleges have enrolled an additional 15,830 students during the last two years (a 6.8-percent increase).

That number is bigger than the total enrollment of nine of Virginia’s 15 four-year universities and represents 80 percent of Virginia’s total enrollment growth.

PDCCC’s full-time equivalent enrollment jumped 6 percent — from 820 to 869 last year — a record enrollment for 2006-2007 to 2007-2008. We may break 900 for ‘08-‘09.

4Workforce training & jobs: To be competitive, Virginia employers and residents need high-skilled training that only community colleges can provide.

Putting Virginians to work and strengthening Virginia’s labor force is essential to the commonwealth’s competitiveness.

According to last year’s workforce report, PDCCC served nearly 3,500 individuals in credit and noncredit workforce courses, ranking 11th among the 23 community colleges in Virginia.

Commenting on the current situation, PDCCC President Doug Boyce said, “College personnel understand as a state agency, we need to cut our spending to help with the current budget shortfall. As we prepare for 15-percent budget cuts for FY 2010, we are experiencing record enrollments in the VCCS and at PDCCC.

People realize that educational preparation is an important part of dealing with the downturn in the economy. Our fear is that we will not have the capacity to adequately help.”