Peninsula College suspends programs

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While Peninsula College officials have announced plans to lay off some staff to counteract an $800,000 deficit, the Port Townsend campus should bear little brunt of these moves.

Peninsula College President Luke Robins attributed the deficit to the school’s enrollment declining nearly every year since 2009, with a drop of more than 25 percent in its number of international students enrolled last year.

Robins described the enrollment trend at Peninsula College as coinciding with similarly declining enrollment figures for other two-year colleges, both statewide and nationally, over the past four years, and noted that the resultant declines in enrollment-based revenues, such as tuition fees, are being exacerbated by increasing operation costs.

While Robins declined to speculate how many positions could be cut, he pointed out that human resources make up 80 percent of Peninsula College’s budget.

Even as Peninsula College as a whole weathers these impacts, the Port Townsend campus should suffer no impacts to its current credit programming, according to Public Information Officer Kari Desser.

“However, we will experience changes in our non-credit course offerings and structure,” Desser said. “While the (community education) program as a whole has been suspended, this is a temporary circumstance, and the college’s goal is to bring it back. Our spring quarter will run as scheduled.”

The community education classes at Peninsula College are slated be suspended starting this summer quarter. Although this move is pending a reevaluation of the program, there is no date currently set for reintroducing the program once it is suspended.

According to Desser, Peninsula College has already started work on “a creative solution” to repackage some of its well-enrolled non-credit language courses, with an eye toward having them ready for students to enroll in for this year’s fall quarter.

“And the public will continue to have the opportunity to enroll in for-credit classes or audit courses,” Desser said. “During the suspension, the college will continue to offer credit courses in many popular community education fields, including welding, carpentry, ceramics and more.”

Desser explained that, earlier this year, the Port Townsend campus of Peninsula College finalized an agreement with the Western Washington University Academy for Lifelong Learning on the Peninsulas, that welcomes Western’s non-credit programming to Fort Worden as a part of the programming in Building 202, alongside Peninsula College’s courses.

Desser elaborated that the goal of this partnership is to combine the two schools’ efforts to provide East Jefferson County with a variety of non-credit courses that meet the educational needs and interests of the community.

“This collaboration was in progress long before any discussion or decisions were made about Peninsula College’s community and business education program,” Desser said. “With our plans to repackage a handful of courses that were previously non-credit, Western’s rich non-credit programming, and the wide variety of offerings at Fort Worden with other partner organizations, students seeking non-credit course options will have plenty of wonderful choices.”

In the meantime, Desser reminded prospective students that they still have time to enroll in spring courses, which will run as planned beginning April 9, with offerings in art, photography, geology, botany, fishing and more.

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