On October 9th, Virginia Governor Tim Kaine announced his budget plan for fiscal year 2009. An enormous shortage of funds at the state level has resulted in a proposal of reduction of budgets at institutions of higher learning statewide. A five percent reduction in funding for the Virginia Community College System, as noted in Governor Kaine’s plan, would reduce the overall VCCS budget by 20 million dollars. Also included in the Governor’s plan is the layoff of a total of eight positions systemwide. This is the minimum amount that Governor Kaine has requested be trimmed from the VCCS budget; he has also asked for budget plans indicating reductions of 10 and 15 percent as well.
These are significant reductions in funds for operating expenses for all state universities, but these could be particularly significant for the community colleges. In times of economic hardship, community colleges have historically experienced increased enrollment. People who have lost jobs due to the slowing economy seek training in new areas less affected by current conditions. Also, students formerly enrolled in more expensive four-year schools transfer to more affordable local community colleges. This increase in student enrollment coupled with serious budget cuts could strain resources at many of Virginia’s community colleges.
The administration at New River Community College is confident that good management polices and a strong history of creative planning will help the facilities in Dublin and Christiansburg weather this financial crisis. No obvious changes for students and faculty are evident on the immediate horizon, but careful attention needs to stay focused on Richmond in the coming months, particularly after this historic election. All students, faculty and employees need stay aware of developments in the General Assembly after the first of the year. An excellent site for updates on issues concerning the community college system in Virginia is