Declining enrollment and changes in state funding have led Walla Walla Community College leaders to declare a financial emergency.
School President Derek Brandes made the announcement Tuesday, saying those factors prompted a reduction in staff and the elimination of a program at both of the school’s campuses in Clarkston and Walla Walla. A $2.7 million deficit in the college’s 2019-20 budget led to $1.1 million in immediate spending reductions, with another $1.6 million still needing to be cut.
This fall’s enrollment totals some 4,500 students, down 73 from a year ago, and well-below historical numbers. For example, in the 2007-2008 year, the college had more than 6,600 students. In 2015, the Washington Legislature rolled back tuition by 15 percent at universities and 5 percent at community colleges, resulting in a smaller price gap that led more students to start their higher education at a university instead of a community college.
Low enrollment means the college will discontinue its medical assisting program at both campuses for this year. Nine students registered for the program in Clarkston, which has a capacity to serve 25.
System-wide, 16 staff positions were eliminated, two of which were in Clarkston – the classified position of an adviser who helped support the medical assisting program, and a vacant coordinator position.
Staffing levels at WWCC have remained the same, so personnel reductions were required. (Lewiston Tribune)