Eye On Boise

Community colleges growing, want to offer expanded programs…

Jerry Beck, president of the College of Southern Idaho, told legislative budget writers this morning that community college enrollment in Idaho is running six times ahead of the overall growth in the state. He also noted that the state general fund spends $1,915 per full-time community college student, vs. $5,545 per full-time student in the state’s four-year colleges and universities.

College of Western Idaho President Bert Glandon said that college has swelled to a total headcount enrollment of 18,628. That includes 9,107 credit students this fall, and 9,521 non-credit students, including adult basic education and workforce development classes.

North Idaho College President Joe Dunlap said a recent economic impact study of the Coeur d’Alene community college found that it has an economic impact on the region of $164.5 million. “That’s a $1.50 return for every dollar invested in our students,” he said, including both state and local government funding. Dunlap said NIC is working with the Idaho Association of Counties to re-examine the 1982 formula that divides up liquor proceeds to pay a portion of out-of-county Idaho residents’ tuition at the community colleges; Dunlap said the formula no longer reflects current conditions. “That has become a significant issue with the community colleges in the state,” he said.

Gov. Butch Otter has recommended an 8.9 percent increase in the state general fund budget for community colleges next year, to $30.2 million, but the colleges have requested a 41.2 percent increase to $39.2 million. An array of budget requests from the colleges went unfunded in the governor’s budget, from $580,500 for nursing program support at CWI to $191,500 for CSI’s Idaho Falls Outreach Center to $302,300 to expand NIC’s Sandpoint Outreach Center. CSI wanted $178,100 for a STEM initiative; CWI wanted $4.2 million to add instructors and improve pay for adjunct faculty; and NIC wanted $353,200 to increase dual credit course offerings for high school students in the region. None were recommended for funding  by the governor.

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Russell covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog.

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