By Artur Agaronyan
“While a one-time payment was made to employees in FY12, faculty and staff have received no additions to base salaries in three years; for administrators, it has been four years,” said DeRionne Pollard, president of Montgomery College, in a January 2013 budget memo to the MC community.
During the economically difficult years of 2008 through 2011, MC experienced a boom in student enrollment, said Montgomery College’s Office of Institutional Research and Analysis.
Enrollment soared to 27,453 students in 2012, increasing by 1,306 students from 2009, the OIRA2013 report said. By 2013, enrollment fell back to 2009 levels.
The college endured budget cuts in the difficult years. Though enrollment decreased by 4.7% in 2013, county contribution increased by 4.4%, Pollard said.
“For its fiscal 2010 budget, Montgomery College already is looking at a possible reduction of $2.6 million from the county and $3.6 million from the state,” The Gazette reported in late 2008.
“It has always been common knowledge that when the economy is bad, enrollment is good,” said Ed Riggs, chair of communication arts technologies. People choose to enroll at MC because it is either less expensive than four-year college or in order to retrain for better employment, important determinants in times of economic difficulty, Riggs said.
Bernard Sadusky, executive director of the Maryland association of community colleges, said that a recovering economy has an inverse effect on community college enrollment, a relationship that’s existed for decades, The Gazette reported in 2013.
The current budget froze tuition for fiscal year 2014, the report said, in a bid to attract students to MC as the economy recovers and students choose to attend more expensive four-year colleges.
“After several years of flat funding or substantial cuts, the Montgomery County Council’s final vote today on our operating and capital budgets holds positive news for Montgomery College,” said Pollard of the approved fiscal 2014 budget.
Next year’s budget is expected to increase funding further, Pollard said. “I am hopeful the council will appropriate funds to support our compensation enhancements, to operate the Bioscience Education Center, to add nursing staff as well as faculty in high-demand disciplines, and to support access and success programs,” she said. The fiscal 2015 MC budget final vote will be on May 22, she said.
“[Montgomery College] is here to provide a high quality, lower-cost entry point to the four-year degree,” Pollard said in a 2011 article for The Gazette.