The grant that kickstarted Prineville campus expired in September. But after four years of growth in enrollment, the campus is in a position to continue on without the grant, according to Suzie Kristensen, Prineville campus administrator.
The campus, 200 students strong now, was opened in 2009 with help from a national grant obtained by Crook County, Kristensen said.
“The Broadband Technology Opportunity Program grant ended June 30,” Kristensen said. “We applied for and received an extension that carried us through to the end of September.”
The grant subsidized under-enrolled COCC classes in Prineville, so small classes would not have to be cancelled because of low enrollment. Now that the grant has expired, that subsidy is gone.
“Now there’s no cushion,” Kristensen said. “So if a class does not meet minimum enrollment, it will be cancelled.”
The good news, Kristensen said, is that the campus has not had many classes that actually needed subsidies, so the grant expiring will only impact a few students.
The change will not set the college back because of good preparation, according to Shirley Metcalf, dean of extended learning at COCC.
“We knew it was going to end,” Metcalf said. “We’ve been planning so that we have been able to continue.”
This is not the first time lack of money has affected the Prineville campus. In 2003, the college closed the Prineville center they were renting, according to Matt McCoy, vice president for administration at COCC.
This was when the state took back 16 percent of all money they had allotted to community colleges for the biennium, McCoy said.
“At that time, when we announced that we were closing the center, we committed to coming back on a permanent basis,” McCoy said. “In essence, the determination was made that when, not if, we reopened in Prineville, we would seek to make it a permanent presence.”
This was made a reality in 2009, when bond measures passed at the state level gave COCC enough to go in with Crook County, OSU and a few local partners to buy a building.
“COCC responds to the demand for programming,” McCoy said. “So as demand grows, our programming should expand to meet demand.”
And the demand is growing, partly because students in Prineville can receive their full Associate of Arts Oregon Transfer Degree at the Prineville campus, according to Kristensen.
“That’s the only one we currently offer solely,” Kristensen said. “It’s really a great opportunity to complete your degree without going out of the county.”
Kristensen often talks to students who could not get their degree if Prineville wasn’t an option.
“Many students in Prineville can’t commute to Bend,” Kristensen said. “Some main hurdles are childcare, transportation, a job and family commitments.”
COCC is proud of the fact that they have provided opportunities for these students, according to Metcalf.
“It’s been great to give our students in Crook County a degree that they don’t have to leave home [to get],” Metcalf said.