North Carolina’s state revenue shortfall, estimated at about $2 billion for the budget year that ends in June, is cutting into Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College’s budget.
The college announced Thursday that because of the drop in revenue, it is now required to restrict state-funded travel, hiring in nonacademic areas and the purchase of supplies and materials not directly related to classroom instruction.
In December, A-B Tech was ordered to revert $788,085 to the state. The sum represents about 3 percent of the school’s state budget.
The cut in spending at the community-college level comes at a time when more and more people are turning to the college for help. With state unemployment climbing, area residents are looking at the college as a resource to learn new job skills. The state’s unemployment rate went from 7.8 percent in November to 8.7 percent in December. In the Asheville metropolitan statistical area, unemployment rose from 6.1 percent to 6.7 percent.
“Higher unemployment is our greatest predictor of enrollment increases and we are seeing those results in the current economy,” said Dr. Betty Young, A-B Tech’s president, said in a news release.
“With the restricted budget, we cannot hire more people, but we are serving more students,” she said. “In the fall, we had more than 7,000 academic students for the first time in the history of the college. It places a tremendous strain on our staff.”
— Jason Sandford, multimedia editor