Students and faculty from Mississippi's Community College System are urging lawmakers to increase funding for its 15 schools. MPB's Lawayne Childrey reports the group is asking lawmakers to make good on a 2007 promise to fund the colleges at the mid-level point.
More than 100 students and faculty members wearing orange tee-shirts and carrying posters asking for more funding made their presence known at the Mississippi State Capitol yesterday. Among them was Teylor Martinez of East Central Community College in Decatur.
"So honestly the more funding that we have the more money that we are accessible to, the more money I have to further my education to get to the place that I wanna be."
Johnny Allen, President of Northeast Mississippi Community College says the group’s goal is to persuade lawmakers to divide the state’s educational dollars in a more equitable fashion.
"We have a little more than half the college students in the state of Mississippi but the community colleges only receive 7% of state funds. The others are divided among our partners both in K-12 and the university system. Help us pay our faculty, help us keep tuition low for our students by funding us at a level between what you support the K-12 system with and what you support the K-12 system with."
Members of the Community College system say they offer a higher return on investment than other educational entity in the state. It's a sentiment that's echoed by lawmakers on both sides of the Aisle. Senator Terry Burton of Newton serves as the vice chair of the Senate Universities and Colleges Committee as well as vice chair of appropriations.
"Community colleges are extremely important for economic development, for education, higher ed, preparation for university level. And they have a lot of adults coming back to school and getting that AA degree. So we've tried to do everything we can to fund them in a higher level each year. Even in the bad time we try to put as much money as we can into community colleges. This year will be no different."
The state's 15 community colleges serve nearly 250 thousand Mississippians each year. Lawayne Childrey, MPB News.