Local government contributions to community-college budgets are an investment in the future of the region. It is crucial that the support continues.
Clinton Community College, based in Plattsburgh, and North Country Community College, with campuses in Saranac Lake, Ticonderoga and Malone, have both recently approached their sponsor colleges with their budget requests for the 2012-13 school year.
CCC has put together a $15.6 million spending plan and is looking for an $89,000 increase in Clinton County’s share, which would total $2,465,040. The college would raise tuition from $3,620 per year to $3,820 for full-time, in-state students.
NCCC’s plan totals $13.63 million, and Franklin County and Essex County, the two sponsors, are being asked to contribute $1.19 million each, the same amount as last school year. Tuition will remain at $3,900.
Clinton County has not yet made a decision on the CCC budget, but Franklin and Essex counties have each approved their share.
A community college is different from four-year colleges in that the vast majority of students are from the region. If the institution is smart, it also offers courses that are designed to supply the particular workforce needed for the businesses located in its area.
Both CCC and NCCC have served their communities well. Tax money spent on these colleges benefits taxpayers in many ways. A trained workforce means fewer people on social services. People with college degrees make better salaries, which means they are more self-sustaining. Companies in this region can hire local workers if the colleges have people trained to meet their needs. The employees of the colleges also pay taxes and spend money at local stores, restaurants and other businesses. The two-year colleges in the North Country contribute to the culture of the area by producing and sponsoring shows, concerts, athletics and other events that add to the overall health of our communities.
Both of the colleges are having to cope with reductions in state aid, which have resulted in job cuts and other spending curtailments. They have shown restraint in preparing their budgets, keeping taxpayers in mind.
Yet, they continue to grow in size and program strength. NCCC officials told county officials that they are expecting higher enrollments for out-of-county and out-of-state students in 2012-13 and may look at building dormitory space at the Malone campus. Enrollment at CCC was down slightly for 2011-12, but that was after a record year for student numbers in 2010-11. The Plattsburgh college is also considering adding more dorm space.
CCC and NCCC are a source of pride for this area. They have proven they are worth every penny the counties spend on them.