Posted Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012, at 10:30 p.m.

Community colleges seek to restore enrollment growth funding

At a Laramie County Community College Board of Trustees' study session, a Wyoming Association of Community College Trustees representative said the No. 1 legislative priority of the WACCT was restoring funding for enrollment growth.

WACCT executive director Steve Bahmer said the WACCT had initially supported $22 million for enrollment growth funding, but enrollment growth funding was cut to about $14.9 million.

"Our fundamental argument here is going to be we're already incurring the costs for serving the students as a result of the enrollment growth, and that's what this money is for," Bahmer said. He said when enrollment growth becomes framed as money for salary increases for community college employees, it becomes more difficult to restore that funding.

Bahmer said the upcoming legislative session will be important to the restoration of community colleges' enrollment growth funding.

"As we look toward the Legislature, we will be looking for legislators in both houses who understand the value that the colleges deliver, understand the strain the 28 percent enrollment growth is putting on all seven of these institutions and understand how important is to fund costs that have already been incurred by the colleges for serving the students," Bahmer said.

Impact statements were requested to be sent to the Wyoming Community College Commission, who then sent the studies to Gov. Matt Mead, Bahmer said. He said the statements showed the impact of reduced enrollment growth funding could force colleges to reduce or eliminate some programs and prevent them from hiring needed staff.

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