BY SANDI P. BEASON
FULTON – In a tight budget year, Itawamba Community College officials and trustees are working with state lawmakers to receive adequate funding.
As of March 3, figures show that funding for Mississippi's 15 community colleges is $21 million below fiscal year 2004, which ends June 30, said ICC President David Cole. Cole presented the numbers during a Monday meeting of the ICC Board of Trustees.
“We're in the middle, so about 1/15th of the cut is our share,” said Jerry Senter, vice president of finance.
Cole said the $21 million figure likely will change before the budgeting process is complete.
“They're about half-way through the legislative session, and everything is fluid,” he said. “If you look at it in terms of education, 5.7 percent of the education (budget) is what community colleges get. We are going to take the largest share of cuts.”
Cole urged the college's trustees to work with legislators and state elected officials to keep community colleges from being cut.
“We do not constitute the political or emotional support like the K-12 schools,” he said.
If ICC and other community colleges receive cuts, he said, a tuition increase could be an alternate funding source. Charging students an extra $100 per semester would bring in about $500,000, he said, but the college's goal is to provide an affordable education.
“If we have any influence, now might be the time to start using a little of it,” he said.