Herald-Whig View

JWCC has developed a solid plan for growth

Posted: Nov. 3, 2017 11:30 am

JOHN Wood Community College will be dealing from an area of strength as it continues to focus on building its enrollment in the coming years.

The college has closely monitored the increasing demand for its Career, Technical, Health and Education programs, and will be placing an even greater emphasis on developing those offerings to not only improve its bottom line but strengthen the economic climate of the West-Central Illinois and Northeast Missouri region.

There is a growing demand for the programs that are at the heart of the CTHE blueprint, especially those tied to manufacturing, health care, transportation and agriculture.

JWCC has worked to build strong working relationships with numerous businesses and agencies across the region that are matches for many of its CTHE programs. Those partnerships have aided JWCC students with on-the-job training as a key element in some courses, even providing an opportunity for post-JWCC employment. Those types of arrangements also offer an excellent recruiting tool for the college.

The college has proved to be a growing source for the region's demand for skilled manufacturing positions (from welding to industrial maintenance), health care (from nursing to a variety of technical positions) and transportation (from truck driving to logistics management).

JWCC will also be further capitalizing on a strong history of involvement with the agricultural industry it has in the nine counties it serves as part of its district. JWCC President Mike Elbe said college officials are working with a variety of experts from the agricultural community to further strengthen its offerings in that area.

The college should not only be applauded for its efforts to be an integral contributor to the economic development of the region, but for fiscal restraint in what has been some trying times in recent years.

State money once supplied 33 percent of funding for community colleges such as JWCC. But the well-documented budget crisis in Springfield has left many of the state's colleges and universities scrambling to make ends meet. The state currently owes JWCC $1.6 million.

State funding now accounts for just 5 percent of JWCC's operational budget. The college has trimmed its budget by $1.4 million over the past six years, mostly through restructuring while trying to avoid eliminating positions as much as possible.

Becoming less reliant on state funding is another reason JWCC officials are emphasizing growing enrollment. Tuition, which like state funding once accounted for 33 percent of the school's revenue, now makes up 55 percent of the financial pie.

To maintain a healthy bottom line, JWCC must see its enrollment grow. It appears school officials have formed what looks to be a solid game plan.