Tuesday September 8th brought gloomy news from Governor Tim Kaine as he announced the cold hard numbers to cope with in the state budget deficit. Along with layoffs of state employees, Governor Kaine’s budget will reduce the funding to higher education 13 or 15 percent, depending on the institution. However, by making use of State Fiscal Stabilization Funds that were set aside for fiscal year 2011, the overall net reduction for the Virginia Community College System is approximately 6.9 percent. There are no employee layoffs planned for any of the community colleges.
While the budget numbers were particulary hard on certain state departments such as the Virginia Department of Corrections with three facilities closing and 225 jobs lost, the community college system emerged in relatively good shape. This is important since enrollment is up drastically across the system with record enrollments for 2009-2010. Although the jobless rate in Virgina remains below the national average, many people are worried about their futures. Community colleges have historically registered increased enrollment during times of economic turmoil as residents frequently seek to retrain rather than relocate.