Gathering at Capitol asks for more money for two-year colleges
Published: March 21,2012
Tags: appropriations, bill, budget, colleges, Community Colleges, education, funding, funds, higher education, junior colleges, law, lawmaker, legislative, Legislature, state budget, state government, universitires
JACKSON — About 100 community college students, teachers and administrators gathered at the state Capitol yesterday to ask Mississippi legislators for more money to meet the needs of a student population that has grown as the economy has struggled.
Wearing green t-shirts that played off the “Survivor” TV show logo, students enrolled in some of the state’s 15 community colleges stood on the steps of the second floor rotunda as administrators made the case for a 39 percent funding increase.
Eric Clark, executive director of the state Board of Community and Junior Colleges, said community colleges need funding now more than ever.
“After the recession our enrollment skyrocketed and our budgets were cut,” Clark said. “We need the Legislature to make community colleges a priority.”
The lack of funding has led to bigger classes and more part-time faculty members, plus delays in repairs and renovations on buildings, Clark said.
Cory Johnson, a student at Hinds Community College in Raymond, studies computer science. The 19-year-old Johnson said he plans to transfer after two years to Mississippi State, but is attending Hinds for two years to help make his undergraduate education affordable.
Johnson enrolled just as the recession was starting to deepen.
“I originally was going to go straight to Mississippi State, but I’d have so many loans, and I was making my decision around the time the economy starting to really home,” Johnson said.
Rep. Cecil Brown, D-Jackson said that tuition has been on the rise.
“We are pricing people out of higher education in Mississippi,” he said.
Clark asked the crowd three questions: What educational entity is the best bargain? What is the primary entity that trains people for 21st century jobs? And what is the entity that yields the quickest payback on the state’s investment?
Community colleges, the crowd responded each time.
Clark said he knows money is tight and doesn’t expect to get the full 39 percent increase, but hopes to recover to pre-recession budget levels.
The community colleges are hoping that the Legislature can make progress on a four-year-old promise to fund the schools at a pre-student level halfway between K-12 students and students at regional universities.
Community colleges have lost ground on the 2007 goal each of the last four years. Currently, it would take a $2,366 per-student increase to reach that goal.
Clark has said that he doesn’t expect lawmakers to make up that difference in one session.
To sign up for Mississippi Business Daily Updates, click here.
FOLLOW THE MBJ ON TWITTERMy Tweets
Top Posts & Pages
- UMMC reaching out after death of high school football player
- Former Godwin CEO Danny Mitchell dies at 66
- Thousands of acres of Delta farmland to go on auction block
- Northrop Grumman lands $354M Air Force contract for Global Hawks
- Tragedy for Jackson Prep: Football player Walker Wilbanks dies
- Board files suit against VA over release of patients' names
- MDOT: Work on I-269 is on schedule, several phases at halfway point
- City trying to determine who has authority to spend gaming money
- More school districts join MAEP lawsuit brought by Musgrove