Declining enrollment at Wenatchee Valley College has created budget problems

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Enrollment continues to decline at Wenatchee Valley College, with fall quarter numbers down 2.1 percent from last year.

Enrollment numbers are tied directly to state funding for community colleges, and WVC now faces a $1 million deficit this year.

Wenatchee Valley College already has formed a faculty budget review task force to review the scope of the college’s budget challenges.

The fall in student numbers continues a 10-year trend at the college.

Since 2009, enrollment is down more than 1,000 students.

College President Jim Richardson said low unemployment and smaller high school classes account for much of the enrollment decline.

With the economy doing well, there are more jobs available and students are choosing work over college, he said.

Compounding those problems is the Running Start program, which also has fewer students this year.

That’s the first time that has happened since Running Start was first offered in 1993.

Running Start is a program where high school students attend WVC classes and earn college credits while still in high school.

The college has been studying revenue and expenses since early September, when the enrollment decline started becoming apparent.

At that time, it appeared the numbers would be even worse.