While high school enrollments across the state are declining, enrollment at the Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI) continues at a record high level, CCRI President Ray Di Pasquale told the college’s board of trustees last Thursday.
“This is very good news,” he said, reporting that fall enrollment at the institution is 17,740. In the spring of this year, the count was 16,818.
He had some other positive news, saying that the number of incoming students requiring remedial courses is shrinking. Sixty-nine percent of incoming students required at least one remedial course, a slight drop of 1 percent. Of that number, 40 percent required two remedial courses, a 10-percent drop from last year. Di Pasquale’s conclusion is that high schools are doing a better job.
With 2,100 graduates last spring, he said the rate of graduation at CCRI continues to grow and that it was up by 2 percent this year. Di Pasquale also underscored that 35 percent of the college’s enrollment is minorities. He said this is a high water mark in the college’s history and is very encouraging.
Overall, it’s a story that Di Pasquale urged the trustees to tell.
“Now, we’ve got to mention it,” he said.
He called on the trustees to talk with their legislators and seek their support of a $107.8 million budget for the fiscal year starting July 1, 2014. This represents a $3.4 million, or 3.2 percent, increase from the current level of spending. Di Pasquale said the increase is needed just to stay even.
“There’s $1 million [increase] in health benefits alone,” he said.
Under its proposed budget, CCRI would add 10 full-time staffers. Six of those result from the Affordable Care Act with the remaining four teaching remedial courses.
The proposed budget is calculated on 2013 enrollment, meaning, if enrollment levels continue to be high, the college could take in more in tuition revenues than what is projected. The college is looking for $48.2 million in state revenues, with full- and part-time tuition revenues accounting for $46.4 million and the balance of $13.1 million coming from summer fees and other income.
At this point, Di Pasquale said the college isn’t considering a raise in tuitions for next year.
But that could change. The budget plan hinges on state legislators coming through with the additional $3.4 million and what the college can negotiate for union contracts. No raises have been built into the budget.
After the trustee meeting, Di Pasquale was asked if CCRI could sustain a four-year freeze in tuitions, as Cranston Mayor Allan Fung called for last week in his announcement as a Republican candidate for governor.
Di Pasquale said that depends on the plan. He didn’t see it as possible without additional sources of revenue, meaning, most likely, added state funding.