Walla Walla Community College declares financial crisis, president hopeful after cuts

WALLA WALLA, Wash. - Walla Walla Community College declares financial crisis, forcing 16 job losses and a program to shut down, but President Brandes says some areas of the school are succeeding. 

The school is in a $2.7 million deficit to start the semester. President Derek Brandes says the loss is in part due to less students enrolling at the college.

"College and university enrollment is down nationally and down statewide, it's not unique to Walla Walla," President Brandes said.

In 2008, the community college had more than 6,600 students registered for classes. This semester only 4,500 students will be attending. 

"We have 30% less students here but we were still working with the same amount of staff we were 10 years ago," he said.

That lead the board of trustees to cut 16 jobs at the college. President Brandes says 10 of those jobs were vacant positions and 6 people were let go.

The medical assistant program was also cut due to low enrollment numbers. 

President Brandes clarifies that some newer programs like the criminal justice courses are doing well.

"With the correctional facility in town and retirements coming for police and firefighters, the program is doing well," he said.

The other high education entities in Walla Walla do not seem to be a factor in the lower number of students. He says less students are attending college because of the threat of debt, other job opportunities and the possibility of a gap year. 

"A lot of it is adjusting to a new reality of enrollment and adjusting to the programs students want to take,"  he said.

A student funded recreation center is under construction at WWCC and is set to open spring 2020. President Brandes says he hopes more amenities can bring more students to the college.


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