Community college enrollment level stabilizes



August 13, 2011 - 12:00 AM

Preliminary enrollment figures for Allen County Community College are encouraging, college trustees were told Thursday.
Following a one-year drop in enrollment — 2010 was the first year the college had lost students after 10 consecutive years of growth — the numbers have stabilized, reported Randy Weber, vice president for student affairs. As of Thursday, 2,856 students were enrolled, 67 more than fall of 2010. The number of hours enrolled, 27,497, is up about 1 percent.
Weber also noted that the college’s dormitories, student apartments and college farm are above capacity. As many as 30 students must find other accommodations, such as tripling up in some dorm rooms, staying at an area motel or being placed on a waiting list.
The housing crunch has summarily halted last-minute recruiting by ACCC coaches, Weber said, “because they don’t know where they would put the students if they signed.”
Housing shortages are commonplace at the college each year, and are solved through student attrition.
The topic also prompted Trustee Spencer Ambler to ask if the college should again investigate the construction of a sixplex apartment complex on White Boulevard. Trustees sought a zoning variance to build such a structure last year, but tabled the discussion when it was apparent the college was losing enrollment.
The board will take up the matter again at their Sept. 8 meeting.
If enrollment stabilizes and again begins to grow, the housing shortages could become more acute.
Weber also noted that the dorms were full even though the college’s track and cross country teams have only 16 of a potential 40 scholarships filled. Likewise, the music department has only 20 of 70 scholarships filled.
As a whole, the college has given out 255 scholarships — five are pending — out of a possible 370.
“Those numbers tend to even out to about that level from year to year,” Weber said.
Ambler said he was optimistic ACCC’s enrollment would resume growing because the tuition costs associated with four-year universities continue to grow.
“People are looking for affordable education,” Ambler said.

THE MEETING was the first for Tosca Harris, ACCC’s dean for the Iola campus. She taught at Allen County from 1986 to 1990 before her teaching career took her to Reno, Nev., then back to southeast Kansas. The past 11 years, she was a division chair for liberal arts at Neosho County Community College in Chanute.
Trustees approved the hiring of Ted Clous as a music instructor, Nicci Denny as a business instructor, Andy Shaw as an assistant men’s basketball coach and fitness center director and Kim Murry as an office assistant in the financial aid department.
The college still has vacancies for its online learning coordinator, the adult basic education center and for an assistant in the business office.

THE TRUSTEES ratified the college’s 2011-12 operating budget. The budget is supported with a total property tax levy of 16.7 mills, a number that has stayed the same over the past several years. The levy is broken down into general fund, 13.2 mills, and 3.5 mills for ACCC’s capital outlay fund.
A single mill generates about $92,000 — more specific numbers will be known once the county’s final assessed valuation is determined this fall — which generates local revenues of $1.54 million.
That means the owner of a $75,000 house will spend about $144 in property taxes next year to support the college. The figure does not include taxes to support municipalities, school district and the county.
The rest of the college’s $16.7 million budget comes from state aid, tuition and cash reserves carried.

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