Record enrollment drops at Lane Community College are forcing the college to take bandaging measures to stem the loss of revenue. Using the reduced budget made last spring, the administration has cut funding to departments and raised the enrollment capacity of many classes.
Last spring, when LCC’s Board of Education made this year’s budget, they estimated a 12 percent drop in enrollment for this fall. This estimate proved correct.
Greg Holmes, CPA and Chief Financial Officer for LCC, said that the current headcount – the total number of students enrolled at Lane – is down almost exactly by 12 percent. However, the net registration represents the total number of classes that students have signed up for; this number is down roughly 15 percent from last fall. Students signed up for fewer classes than expected.
One of the ways that the college is working to save money and account for loss of enrollment revenue is through enrollment capacity enhancement. The college administration and the Lane Community College Education Association agreed this summer to set many class sizes above their assigned caps.
According to the LCCEA website, the administration proposed that these larger class sizes would account for the regular attrition rate and result in fuller classes. However, many classes are still over capacity because of this increase.
In addition to raising the enrollment cap on a number of courses, the college also forced budget cuts to each department for the 2014-15 school year. These cuts reflected the estimated enrollment drop and put a pinch on all the departments, forcing them to offer fewer classes.
The Physical Education Department was able to distribute cuts fairly and equally between educational classes – taught in classrooms – and health and fitness classes. According to Chris Hawken, dean of health, PE and athletics, PE classes are still highly enrolled and their enrollment reduction matches the 12 percent school-wide drop. Hawken estimates better enrollment for the winter, as new students discover the PE facilities and head inside to stay fit and keep out of the rain.
Other departments didn’t fare so well. Mathematics Administrative Coordinator Lesley Stine said Math Department faculty and students had a rough time with registration this fall. She said the college may have forced the registration drop by making it harder for students to find classes this fall.
Fewer classes were available and those that were available filled up fast. Even courses that had their capacity increased filled up quickly.
The capacity increase represents a change in the developmental math classes from 28 to 31 students, with 36 the most in any class. The Math Department added courses when administrators realized that classes were getting filled quickly, but could only add so many, because of the new year-long budget restrictions. “If we added too many classes for fall term, what would we do in the winter?” Stine said.
Stine said that students new to Lane were hurt the most by registration changes. Many couldn’t register in the normal manner for math classes because each student had to meet with an advisor within the four weeks before fall term started. After their advising session, new students found that the classes they needed were already filled beyond capacity. The only way to add a class at that point was to get an instructor’s approval, which could be daunting for a new student to deal with; impossible if the class was already filled beyond capacity. “How many of them did we scare off?” Stine said.