The story has been echoed at many other community colleges. Some school have have been able to minimize the impact on the classroom by savings in energy use, conferences, travel, maintenance, etc. Most schools are utilizing more part-time faculty who, because they don't receive benefits, are less expensive on a per student basis. Some full-time faculty are teaching an extra class. Class sizes are up.
Virginia's community colleges do not cap enrollment. Unlike UVA or JMU who can meet some budget constraints by limiting the number of students accepted, our community colleges take everyone. And those numbers are increasing as unemployed Virginians seek new job skills or look to get a great tuition deal on basic courses that will transfer to a four-year college. Community colleges are reporting double digit enrollment increases, with some experiencing jumps of 25-30%.
With expectations that Virginia's budget situation will get worse before it gets better, pressure will increase on community colleges - budgets are likely to go down while enrollments continue to go up. Governor Kaine's last budget, the new governor, and the General Assembly should recognize the importance of community colleges in building a trained and skilled workforce for the state. If at all possible, the Virginia Community College System should be spared additional cuts - the 23 colleges, located on 40 campuses, serving some 262,444 students do too much good work to be slammed again.