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Enrollment drop costs WCCC $1.2 million

| Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012, 12:02 a.m.

A 6 percent drop in enrollment this fall could leave Westmoreland County Community College with a deficit of more than $348,000 for the 2012-13 fiscal year, officials said Wednesday.

WCCC trustees voted to amend the original $38.9 million budget to reflect the decline in enrollment, which cost the school about $1.2 million in anticipated tuition and fees, during their monthly meeting at the college's Youngwood campus.

The tuition loss was partially offset by about $460,000 in unanticipated state funding as well as cost reductions in health care expenses and faculty wages and benefits because fewer adjunct professors and classes were needed, said Ron Eberhardt, vice president of administrative services.

The college's projected deficit of $348,431 assumes a 6 percent drop in enrollment for the spring semester, but Eberhardt said officials are hopeful that figure will improve.

Registration for the spring semester is open through the start of classes Jan. 10.

In other business, trustees approved a contract with Bloomsburg University to convert 10 of WCCC's ShaleNet classes to online courses with quizzes, audio tracks and graphics.

The $132,770 grant-funded contract with Bloomsburg's Institute for Interactive Technologies will be used to adapt four roustabout, four floorhand and two production technician courses.

Patrick Gerity, vice president of continuing education, work force and community development, said transitioning courses online is crucial in institutionalizing the ShaleNet program, which trains workers for entry-level jobs in the Marcellus Shale natural gas industry, and selling the curriculum to other states.

More than 2,480 people completed training activities and education with about 1,650 finding a Marcellus Shale-related job in Pennsylvania from July 2010 through September, according to data collected from the state Department of Labor, ShaleNet and its affiliates.

Kari Andren is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-2856 or kandren@tribweb.com.

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