OCtech
T&D

Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College is shifting about $470,000 in contingency funds within its budget to offset a shortfall due to a dip in enrollment.

The OCtech Area Commission unanimously approved moving the funds to the school’s operating budget during its February meeting.

Kim Huff, vice president of business affairs, reported in January that enrollment dropped in the fall and he was expecting to see another decrease in the spring semester. A drop in enrollment leads to a decline in bookstore sales as well as tuition revenue, he said.

Overall, the school could see a shortage as high as $500,000 for 2015-16. However, the shortfall should be made up by the college’s contingency funds and some savings realized because employees who retired or left have not been replaced.

Dr. Sandra Davis, vice president of student affairs, said after the February meeting that the school lost about 280 students in the fall and it appears there will be another reduction in enrollment this semester. However, the final number won’t be available until April since a number of classes don’t begin until March.

A major reason for the decreased enrollment is that the economy has picked up and some students are dropping out of school to go to work, Davis said.

“In our situation and in other technical schools, we feel the pinch when the economy is better,” she said. “It’s good for the economy, but that is when we find a dip in out enrollment.”

However, OCtech launched an evening college this fall as an alternative for people who want to work and get an education, she said. The first students enrolled this semester.

Courses are being offered in almost every academic division, Davis said.

Commissioners also unanimously approved a change to the college’s policy of enrolling senior citizens in courses free of charge.

Beginning with the upcoming summer session, citizens 60 or older will be allowed to take any class without cost depending on available space, Davis said after the meeting.

Previously, the classes were open only to people not fully employed, she said. But this opens the field up to people who want to take courses related to their careers or who are interested in entirely new career areas, Davis noted.

The summer school schedule of classes will be on OCtech’s main website by March 14 at the latest, she said. Senior citizens may enroll for summer school May 16-20 and for the fall session Aug. 22-16.

Classes are held during the day, afternoon and evening, which makes them available to almost everyone, Davis said.

Those taking part in the program will have to pay for books and supplies.

In other business, President Dr. Walt Tobin reported that OCtech was ranked number one among the state’s technical schools and number five among all state agencies by the state’s Human Affairs Commission for achieving its affirmative action goals in 2016.

Tobin also reported that OCtech officials met with the House Ways and Means Higher Education Subcommittee on Feb. 2 and requested $10.5 million in non-recurring funds for the new health science building and $2.1 million in non-recurring funds to re-roof 10 buildings on campus.

In addition, Tobin introduced the following 2016 educators of the year to area commissioners: Jodi Ott, faculty educator of the year; Angie Fogle, support staff educator of the year; and Laney Cornelius, administrator of the year.

Contact the writer: dlinder-altman@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5529.

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