Budget bite: Funding cuts stretch N.C. community colleges beyond capacity
By Sam Boykin When Steve Seger was laid off from his job with a Charlotte cabinetmaker in September, he decided to leave behind the struggling construction industry and pursue a career in nursing. But his newfound career path hit a snag when he enrolled for the spring semester at Charlotte’s Central Piedmont Community College and some of the core classes he needed in biology and math were already full. “If you don’t have enough credit hours, you don’t get priority registration,” said Seger, 40. “I went to see my advisor, and the next day I went to register and could only get three of the classes I needed.” It’s a story that’s being repeated throughout the state. North Carolina community colleges have experienced explosive enrollment growth since the recession hit in 2008. Classrooms are filling up with people who have been laid off or just want to continue their education or brush up on their job skills rather than face the grim job market. Yet even as these institutions face skyrocketing demand, their budgets are being slashed and their resources stretched beyond capacity.