Pebbles Armwood believes community colleges are a vital part of the future of higher education in America.
With the ever-increasing cost of four-year colleges, along with thousands of people nationwide needing to return to school to be retrained after losing jobs during the recession, community colleges are being utilized in many different ways, Armwood said.
“Community colleges provide everyone out there an affordable educational option to improve themselves and gain valuable new job skills,” said Armwood, 29, a delegate for the CCBC Essex Student Government Association the day before Thursday's rally in Annapolis in support of state funding for community colleges.
Armwood, a nursing student from Rosedale, hopes state lawmakers will share her view after she joined 15 fellow CCBC students and hundreds of other community college students in Annapolis to rally for funding of Maryland’s two-year schools.
CCBC President Sandra Kurtinitis told Patch Wednesday that she understands the state is dealing with another billion-dollar deficit, but believes lawmakers who hear from actual students will agree that cuts to community college funding is not in the best interest of the state’s economic recovery efforts.
Kurtinitis said she would like the General Assembly to approve Gov. Martin O’Malley’s proposed FY 2013 operating budget, which includes $4.7 million in state aid to Maryland’s 16 community colleges. Of that amount, about $700,000 would go to CCBC, which has campuses in Essex, Dundalk and Catonsville.
“We’re not asking for everything, we would just like to keep the funding where it is and we will make use of it in the most efficient way possible and with passing as little of the cost on to the students as possible.”
Along with lobbying for state aid, Kurtinitis said, CCBC is also seeking $2.7 million toward the completion of CCBC’s Owings Mills center and $8 million toward renovations, which would convert the Catonsville campus’ old library into the college’s new science building.
In addition, Kurtinitis said, the state’s community colleges are also concerned about the push to shift teacher pension costs from the state to the counties, which could cost CCBC millions of dollars.
“We’re bracing for a big economic hit and not sure what to expect when it comes to pensions in the near future,” Kurtinitis said.
What role do you expect community colleges to play in the future of higher education in Maryland? Tell us in the comments section below.