By Ashley Conroy - email
JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Education leaders say community colleges will drive Mississippi's future workforce.
Students and presidents from junior colleges all across the state rallied at the Capitol on Thursday to ask lawmakers for more state funding.
Governor Haley Barbour has put $9 million from stimulus funds into Mississippi's 15 junior colleges. However, he still prepared them for more cuts if revenue get more strapped in the state.
"Still, community colleges have got to give up something just like everybody else," Barbour said.
Education leaders discussed how enrollment has increased drastically in the past several years. A common trend, they say, when the economy turns sour.
However, they also say 27 percent of funding for junior colleges comes from tuition, and the rest comes from the state.
East Central Community College President Phil Sutphin says his school has seen the effects of less money coming in and more students enrolling in classes.
"Our faculty members are teaching overloads and I can't afford to hire new faculty to teach the new students that are coming in."
Meanwhile, the Senate along with the House agreed to restore $79 million in state budget cuts where most of the funds would go toward elementary and secondary education.
But the Governor says he will veto this bill because more needs to go towards community colleges.
As for students at these community colleges, they say they wouldn't be where they are today, if it wasn't their education.
"I was a GED recipient, so I do not believe my story would exist if it weren't for community college," said Mark-Arthur Turner, the SGA President of Itawamba Community College.
"It has really changed my life going to a community college and set me up for success later in life," said Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College student Kale Hutton.
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