Thursday, November 13, 2008

Community Colleges To Be Hit Hard by Budget Crisis, Report Finds

November 13, 2008- Unless you just got back from an extended Caribbean vacation where the only news you got was a weather report, you’ve probably been following the financial crisis as it unfolds. Although seemingly distanced from the mortgage industry and stock market, those of us entrenched in the education space are quickly seeing its effects as it hits close to home – especially among our community college partners.

A recent survey previewed in this week’s Chronicle of Higher Education reports that community colleges in nearly half of the states will probably face midyear reductions in their appropriations. State budget cuts, which are looming, will only compound the issues that higher education, as well as secondary education, began to experience in the past year.

Stephen G. Katsinas, a Professor of Higher Education and Director of the Education Policy Center at the University of Alabama, who, along with Terrence A. Tollefson, a Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis at East Tennessee State University conducted a survey of members of the National Council of State Directors of Community Colleges. According to The Chronicle that previewed some of the findings, “The study paints a bleak picture of a widening fiscal crisis among state governments, which started in the most recent budget year and is expected to have a major effect on all higher-education sectors.”

The Chronicle reports among the surveys key findings, “Of six key community-college functions, including general education and remediation, budget cuts are expected to have the greatest effect on vocational, occupational, and technical education and the fine arts.”

For the past year, ConnectEDU has been focusing its technology on this segment of higher education and the importance of workforce development in preparing students for the future. As a partner with ConnectEDU, Dr. James Kellerman, Executive Director of the Council of North Central Two Year Colleges, has been advocating for technology to streamline community college operations while enhancing services to career-minded students and REDUCING OPERATIONAL COSTS. In fact, some community colleges are realizing that the deployment of ConnectEDU’s Connect! and integration with their primary employer partners could actually result in a profit center. Very exciting in these times!

Like many of his colleagues, Dr. Kellerman understands that there are ways to streamline inefficiencies for long-term cost benefits. Implementing technology now will help change how community colleges recruit, admit, service and graduate students into the workforce while potentially creating a new source of funding.

Read Dr. Kellerman’s recent editorial on how technology is streamlining workforce development efficiency.

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