College enrollment declines



August 13, 2010 - 12:00 AM

A decade of constant enrollment growth will come to an end when fall classes begin next week at Allen County Community College.
Trustees were told Thursday that as of today, the number of students en-rolling at ACCC is down 9 percent from 2009-10, while the number of hours being taken is down about 3.7 percent.
The drop in enrollment marks the first decline from one year to the next in more than a decade, said Randy Weber, the school’s vice president for academic affairs.
The largest drop came in ACCC’s outreach classes, particularly those in and around Burlingame, as well as in Shawnee County.
For example, classes be-ing taught at the college’s Burlingame campus have 897 students enrolled, down almost 100 from last fall, while classes taught at Osage City have 62 students enrolled this fall, compared to 105 in 2009, a drop of 41 percent.
“When you see an enrollment drop like that, the first thing you ask is how it happened, why it happened and what can we do to better it in the future,” Weber said.
He cited the college’s decision to drop a paramedic training program in New Strawn for a sliver of the reduction, but said the drop in enrollment does not appear to be a result “of anything we are or aren’t doing.”
Weber noted that enrollment at the Iola campus likely will be roughly equal to last year once the final numbers are in, while enrollment in online courses continues to grow.
Online enrollment, in fact, will likely will be greater than the number of students enrolled at either the Iola or Burlingame campuses, the first time that will have happened, Weber said. And while online enrollment is up about 10 percent from 2009, that percentage also is down from years past.

TRUSTEES approved the college’s $14.9 million spending plan for 2010-11, which will rely in part on a property tax levy of about 17 mills.
The college’s mill levy has remained static for the past several years, trustees noted.
The mill levy may be altered slightly once the college knows its service area’s final assessed valuation, currently projected at $91 million.
At that rate, a single mill, equivalent to one-tenth of a cent, will generate about $91,000 in property taxes — $1.2 million in all.
At 16.9 mills, the owner of a $100,000 home would pay about $195 annually in property taxes to the college, not counting taxes to respective municipalities, school districts or county government.
Steve Troxel, ACCC’s vice president of finance and operations, said health insurance premiums for college employees will go up slightly this year. Single employee or employee-spouse premiums will go up 1.9 percent, according to figures provided by Blue Cross Blue Shield. Family plans or plans for employees with children will go up 4.1 and 5.5 percent, respectively. Troxel said those rates are up a higher percentage due in part to changes in federal health care legislation that will make it legal for parents to have coverage for their children up to the age of 26.

NOW THAT a roof replacement project for the main Iola campus building is complete, it soon will be time for the college to consider other capital improvement projects, trustees were told.
College President John Masterson and Troxel showed trustees a list of potential projects as well as capital outlay revenues for the next four years.
Trustees suggested that as plans take shape, administrators should survey students and faculty to gather their points of view.
For example, Masterson said many instructors have voiced frustration at the acoustics in some of the classrooms on campus.
And Trustee Neal Barclay said the college should look at improving ACCC’s Student Center, which contains a book store that seemingly is always cramped for space and a kitchen and cafeteria that surely are in need of upgrades.

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