Education
6:00 am
Tue March 22, 2011

Challenges Facing Community Colleges

The president of the national organization that represents community colleges visited Guilford County yesterday. Walter Bumphus was in the state as part of a national listening tour.

Bumphus included North Carolina in his travels because of the state’s robust and comprehensive community college system. There are 58 community colleges in North Carolina, serving nearly a million students. Scott Ralls is the president of the North Carolina Community College system.

He says the down economy has meant laid-off workers arriving on campuses in droves:

"In the last 3 years we’ve grown by the size of NC State and UNC-Charlotte put together. Last year we grew by 15 percent, but our equipment budget is the same."

Ralls says funding is not keeping up with the rising number of students. Many of the campuses are enrolling more students than ever, but funding is based on the previous year’s enrollment, without factoring in possible growth.