Enrollment soared to 107 percent last quarter. What does this mean for Pierce College and students?
Basically, the number of students enrolled at the college reached 107 percent of its normal rate. That could mean more revenue to the college to balance out budget cuts, but it could also mean more students crammed into classes and fewer parking spots.
College administrators are trying to find long-term solutions to higher enrollment and other issues that accompany the higher number of students.
Administrators are researching a new software suite that could simplify student registration, online payment and management of student information.
“It will help to bring all of our services together and make them more efficient,” said Pierce College Puyallup President Patrick Schmitt.
Besides enrollment rates, Schmitt is worried about lower funding. More state budget cuts are being predicted for next year, and that could mean less student services and more tuition increases.
“For every percent cut we receive from the state, we need about two and a half percent of a tuition increase to make up for it,” Schmitt said.
Gov. Chris Gregoire has proposed that colleges increase tuition by 10 percent for the coming school year and another 10 percent the following year.
According to Schmitt, a 10 percent tuition increase will make up for about half of the cuts the governor is planning to make. The rest of the money will have to come out of cuts on the college’s parts.
“We’ve only just begun to think about the budget on our own,” Schmitt said. “We are hoping there will be no cuts in student services and no cuts in instruction.”
Restructuring is another measure administrators are taking.
“The whole administration is going to be reorganized,” Schmitt said. “And we don’t know yet what it will look like.”
Schmitt does know that when they are done restructuring a chancellor and two campus presidents will remain, but other positions are subject to reorganization.
The budget organizer position recently was cut and those duties are being distributed to other positions.
One idea they are exploring is having deans instead of division chairs. However, Schmitt says, this change is still in the future.
“Changing things like administrative structure can take a year or two,” he said.
He is not making any decisions yet and says administrators are merely discussing it right now.
As administration tries to find the best solution as to what administrative positions should be eliminated or changed, Schmitt says they have higher motivations.
“The primary motivation there is to serve students better and create a more efficient structure for the district over all,” he said.
Schmitt says administrators have other plans to counter high enrollment and low funds, but he said he is not too worried.
He said the economy now has leveled again. The people who would have gone back to school are already here. Therefore enrollment levels will plateau.
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