By Tyler Leeds

The Bulletin

Central Oregon Community College continued to see a decline in enrollment this summer term, according to a presentation to COCC’s board Wednesday night.

A year ago, the college had 2,924 students enrolled. This year, that number is down to 2,395, a decrease of 529 students and just over 18 percent. COCC administrators attributed the decrease to the continued economic recovery, which began affecting the college after 2012. According to this logic, community college enrollment tends to decline as the economy improves because would-be students take jobs instead of classes as more work becomes available.

“We had budgeted for a 15 percent decline, so this drop is steeper than what the budget anticipated,” said COCC President Jim Middleton.

To accommodate the larger-than-forecast decrease, the college is offering fewer sections than last summer, decreasing expenses by about $95,000, according to Ron Paradis, COCC director of college relations. Despite the savings, the enrollment shift has led to a $125,000 dip in revenue.

“This plants a warning for the fall,” Middleton said. “One shoe has dropped. We’re hoping the second doesn’t. The preliminary views on fall enrollment are challenging both here and at other community colleges.”

Dean of Student and Enrollment Services Alicia Moore noted COCC’s enrollment over the past 10 to 15 years has mirrored that of other Oregon community colleges, though increases and decreases at COCC tend to lag behind the other schools by one year.

“This is on par with what other colleges have already experienced,” she said.

Also during the meeting, the board elected Laura Craska-Cooper as the next board chairwoman. Craska-Cooper will replace Bruce Abernethy.

The board approved a purchase for bed frames, wardrobes and desks to furnish a dorm that is under construction. The furniture, which the college is paying $569,730 for, was made by inmates from the Oregon Corrections Enterprises program. The $22 million, 330-bed dorm is scheduled to open fall 2015.

— Reporter: 541-633-2160,