Economic and education leaders in communities with few higher education institutions say the possible closure of up to 20 Ivy Tech Community College facilities statewide could hurt opportunities for local students.
The school is considering closing a quarter of its 72 facilities because of a nearly $68 million deficit.
Ivy Tech officials blame that on state funding that they say has not kept up with higher operating costs and increased enrollment, even though the budget passed in the 2013 session increases state funding to the school by about $14 million.
The closings would affect leased branches where Ivy Tech does not own the building but sends the educators to teach classes.
Lawrence County Economic Growth Council Director Gene McCracken says he worries about what would happen if students in his area did not have the option of a community college.
“It’s important to have this continuing education, especially in the manufacturing industry where things change seemingly overnight,” McCracken says. “So to keep up with technology, to keep up with new and emerging I just think it’s necessary to have a campus like that close to you so you can get its true value.”
Mary Yelton, the coordinator for the Linking Education for Adults, Adolescents and Preschoolers in Brazil, says fewer and less convenient locations could be problematic for students.
“They would have to find transportation, find a way to another Ivy Tech site,” Yelton says. “And we do not have public transportation in our county, so I think it would be a real barrier for them.”
The college’s board of trustees plans to meet next week to consider the possible cuts, although Ivy Tech Chief Financial Officer Chris Ruhl says a decision is not likely for some time.
Ivy Tech officials met Monday to discuss another budget issue–a tuition rate increase.