Debate between enrollment and new courses ensues

Enrollment failed to meet the seven percent projected growth, resulting in the school needing to give back $2.2 million to the district, according to Pierce College President Kathleen Burke.

Burke said projected growth in August was seven percent, then lowered to five. After a meeting with a district representative the percent was lowered to three, which is about two percent higher than the state average. Due to the projection lowering four percent the school must return $2.2 million to the district.

To meet three percent growth, the college is borrowing 400 hours from summer, which will put the school 400 hours behind to start in the Fall of 2016.

“Our growth statewide is flattening out, in fact there’s no way I think we could hit seven percent even if we took all of summer,” Burke said. “Spring enrollment was flat, in fact it dipped a little bit. Some of that could be because we added classes to the winter.”

Burke explained that the the college receives money from the district up front and must repay it when they do not match the growth projections.

“We had already come down from seven percent to five, and refunded $1.1 million to the district,” Burke said. “Our most recent meeting with the district representatives from attendance accounting, we needed to drop down to three percent, that is still growth, just not as much growth as we projected. We will be returning another $1.1 million to the district from our original budget because we’re not going to make the growth we projected.”

Vice President of Academic Affairs Sheri Berger said that there is new legislation called the Dual Enrollment Bill that could help bring more high school students into the community college community.

“The new legislation passed allows for dual enrollment and this is one way we can increase enrollment,” Berger said. “There is a smaller population of high school graduates which means there are fewer students coming to us.”

Berger said that hours are allocated, and department chairs are to schedule to meet the needs of students. The school is currently working closely with the Ruffalo Noel Levitz organization who will come in May to assess the FETS generation, and look into factors that may be impacting growth.

The organization will look at Pierce’s service area demographic and perform a cursory look at some of the marketing efforts and different factors that go into the overall scheduling including how big our sections are, according to Berger.

Courses that are considered electives in many departments have been archived due to the realignment several years ago, according to Academic Senate Treasurer Angela Belden.

“Sometimes those courses that get students excited about taking other things are the things that we are not offering as frequently anymore due to the realignment several years ago,” Belden said.

Belden questioned why the seven percent growth was established by administration and if Pierce requires consultation on the efficiency of classes.

“While I think it’s a really good idea to examine why we didn’t meet our growth goal, I think that we need to be doing it in-house as well,” Belden said. “I don’t necessarily think that it is something we should be hiring a consultant about, especially when we haven’t really looked at our campus committees to try and have them answer some of the questions first.”

“That seven percent goal was not a goal that was decided on in a shared government sort of way. We just heard from the administration, ‘we will grow by seven percent and this is what we’re going to do,’ and that itself wasn’t done by a shared governance committee,” Belden said.

Wayne Perkins, instructor of music, said that we have been flat for the last four or five years without adding new classes.

“My concern is that even if we do grow in students, we are not adding classes to facilitate any kind of growth in the departments,” Perkins said.