Low Enrollment at Jackson College Causes Layoffs

By: Alyssa Fenske Email
By: Alyssa Fenske Email

JACKSON (WILX)-- Enrollment at Jackson College (formally Jackson Community College) has been plummeting over the past few years, and it's beginning to issue layoffs.

In the past three years Jackson College has seen a 33% enrollment decline.

"In some respect we lost the equivalent of a small community college," said Daniel Phelan, President of Jackson College.

President Phelan blames the decline on low high school graduation rates, the cessation of Pell Grant availability for the summer semesters, lower state and federal grants, and the improving economy.

"There's always been this inverse relationship between the economy improving and enrollment going down," said Phelan.

Due to the decline in enrollment, combined with projections for the balance of the fiscal year, Jackson College began issuing layoff notices last week to 14 full-time and three part-time employees. Phelan says there are a few more jobs they're considering issuing notices too. Most of the positions are from the administration department; no teachers have been laid off.

If things don't change, student workers like Joseph Lons are concerned they'll be next.

"We're not going to have as much revenue coming in, and we're not going to have enough to pay workers. I work for Student Services, and I'm slightly worried that I could lose my job as well," said Lons.

Cuts have also been made in other areas like, maintenance, public relations, equipment supplies, and energy efficiency.

The cuts could potentially effect tuition rates, but Phelan says he won't know for sure until the decision is made in April of next year.

"I'm looking at tuition as the last source we look at," said Phelan.

To turn things around Phelan plans on making key investments this year, including a new marketing campaign.

"We continue to do quite a bit of market analysis, and economic analysis. Yes, I do think we can turn this around. We'll continue to let these investments blossom over time, and until then we'll batten down the hatches so to speak," said Phelan.

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