JCJC attends Capitol Day | Politics
The following is a press release from Jones County Junior College:
Jones County Junior College representatives joined dozens of Mississippi community college students as they flooded the Capitol in Jackson Feb. 28 to ask their legislators to continue their support of Mid-Level funding.
In 2007 legislators promised to fund the colleges at the Mid-Level point – per-student funding halfway between K-12 education and the regional public universities – but the community colleges are only getting 52 percent of the promised funds.
Using data from FY 2011, the regional public universities were funded at $5,803 per student and public schools were funded at $4,560 per student. Community colleges should have been funded at $5,182 per student, but instead received only $2,686 per student.
State-wide community college enrollment in 2012 included over 80,000 students. In addition to college students, community colleges educated workforce trainees with 85,000 individuals enrolled, while GED and Adult Basic Education made up 18,794 individuals enrolled for the same time period. In fact, 68 percent of all freshmen enter college through a public community college while 60 percent of university graduates previously attended a community college.
At a morning news conference, state Sen. Terry Burton of Newton told community college supporters that lawmakers appreciate the job the colleges do.
“It’s important for us to know as legislators that the best value in education in Mississippi and, I believe, in the world is the Mississippi community and junior college system. Our continued economic success demands that we provide for you the best funding source that we can from the state. It doesn’t go unnoticed - the accountability, the efficiency and the numbers of people you serve with those funds,” Burton said. “We’re going to do the very best that we can in funding you.”
Dr. Eric Clark, executive director of the Mississippi Community College Board, said the community colleges are life-changers.
“I am absolutely certain that the primary institution at this point in our history which is helping folks get off welfare, get out of minimum wage jobs and stay out of jail is our Mississippi community colleges,” he said.
In addition to participating in the news conference, JCJC students and faculty visited their local legislators. JCJC students were invited to the House of Representatives chamber by Rep. Bobby Shows. Shows, who is a graduate of JCJC, showed support for funding.
“We need to realize the golden opportunity students have to attend JCJC,” he said. “At JCJC you are an individual and not a number. I have no idea where the state would be without the training students get at JCJC. The technology programs are outstanding for the returning non-traditional students who are referred through WIN job centers.”
Senator Chris McDaniel met with students after the news conference to answers questions and discuss his efforts to support funding at the community college level.
“As a product of the junior college system and a graduate of JCJC, it is always an honor to see students and teachers representing the school at the Capitol,” said McDaniel.
After meeting with legislators, JCJC sophomore Lewis Bateman said, “We really want to show our gratitude to the legislature for their support on obtaining funding.”
JCJC President Dr. Jesse Smith said the colleges appreciate what legislators have done to help with funding, and he mentioned the opportunities community colleges would have with full mid-level funding.
“Mid-level funding is the lifeblood of community colleges. It helps us do more than break even financially. It helps with student services that improve the student experience, allows JCJC to offer competitive faculty wages that attract the best and brightest instructors and has a positive impact on the community overall,” he said. “What we did today sends a good message to the legislature through a unified voice of alumni, instructors and student associations to support this funding that is needed.”
PHOTO: JCJC students and faculty talk with Senator Chris McDaniel during the Community College Capitol Day held, Feb. 28. Pictured with McDaniel are, front row, left to right, journalism instructor Kelly Atwood, student Lana Ishee of Laurel, McDaniel, Haley Davis of Ellisville, Director of Counseling Diane Williams; second row, Lewis Bateman of Laurel, Nikki Smith of Richton, Cheryl Stringer of Ellisville, instructor Dr. Matthew Burnham; third row, DePaul Foxworth of Foxworth, Director of Marketing Finee Ruffin, and Rease Patrick of Ellisville.