Budget Crunch Forces Wor-Wic Community College to Seek Financial - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Budget Crunch Forces Wor-Wic Community College to Seek Financial Help

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Wor-Wic Community College (Photo: WBOC) Wor-Wic Community College (Photo: WBOC)

SALISBURY, Md.- Wor-Wic Community College has been forced to reach out for financial help due to a significant budget shortfall. 

The college is facing a two-sided budget hit, resulting in a $1.3 million shortfall, according to Wor-Wic President Dr. Murray Hoy. He said enrollment is down and employee health care costs are up. And while the school has initiated some budget savings, including freezing positions, that only covered about half of the shortfall.

This week, Hoy went to the Wicomico County Council and the Worcester County Commissioners to seek financial help. He asked for a combined $600,000.

County allocation must be based on the percentage of student enrollment from each county, using a five-year rolling average: Wicomico-70.8% ($424,800), Worcester-29.2% ($175,200.)

Worcester agreed to contribute its full amount, but Wicomico only approved one-half, or $212,400. That means Worcester can only provide one-half, $87,600.

Wor-Wic has been historically under-funded, according to Hoy.

"The counties have had a pretty good shake for many years," he said. "As the most efficiently operated, they have offered the lowest level of funding to us of any community college in the state of Maryland, in part, because we have been very efficiently operated. But, now we're going to have to look to them to help support us", he said.  

Wor-Wic is not alone when it comes to experiencing declining enrollment. Community colleges across the nation have been trending down, Hoy said, due to an improving economy. In his presentation to the counties, Hoy said nationally, there has been a 9% reduction in community college enrollment since the end of the recession. He said the enrollment decline resulted in a $700,000 tuition revenue shortfall. Still, he has hope for future enrollment.

"A lot of the people who have left us today because they got jobs will start coming back," he said. "After they get a little experience in their jobs under their belt, they'll coming back to try to get a little more education to help them in their current job, prepare them for a future job, finish up the degrees they were working on," he said.   

The school has taken several steps to reduce the budget shortfall, according to Hoy. They include strategically freezing positions (meaning each vacancy is evaluated), implementing a travel freeze, except required travel, requesting college-wide budget reductions, eliminating the plan to contract with the Wicomico Sheriff’s Department for a full time Deputy’s presence on campus, which was planned to begin in January 2017, and eliminating 14 credit program options.

Hoy also said Wor-Wic's board of trustees on Thursday approved a budget for next year that will ask for an additional $1.2 million from the counties.

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