Supervisors should level fund the community college

Published 3:49 pm Thursday, May 19, 2016

County supervisors in Prince Edward were wrong to abruptly cut all funding for Southside Virginia Community College (SVCC) a few weeks ago.

The $5,000 allocation to the college from the county is a drop in the bucket compared to its $52 million budget for the next fiscal year. It’s also a drop in the budget for the quoted $8 million reserve fund balance the county has.

The $5,000 cut — which went publicly unexplained for the most part — is an investment in those seeking to improve their lives through education while working or raising a family.

We’re lucky to have the college in our area, no doubt, as it offers numerous partnerships with our high schools, online classes and a bounty of trade courses for an area that needs an educated and skilled labor force to bring more jobs here.

I’ve said for years that the biggest need of the Heart of Virginia is jobs. Cutting funding to SVCC, I think, will deter potential industry and business from locating here.

According to college President Dr. Al Roberts, the largest part of local funds from counties is used for marketing and recruitment, “which is essential to the operation of the college,” he said. The funds also support career and technical advisory committees.

“We do use some of it to support faculty in-service training and tuition assistance, professional development activity for our faculty and staff. Those are critical to the mission of the college as far as I’m concerned,” Roberts said.

I agree with him.

Now the board of supervisors contributes zilch in that vein — though SVCC will continue to support the county.

Over 40 full-time and part-time people who work at SVCC live in Prince Edward — bringing in a combined payroll of over $800,000 annually.

“We serve about 530 students in Prince Edward County … That makes up about 10 percent of our entire student body,” he said.

Education is the best investment any county can make, period, from public schools to higher education.

I urge Prince Edward supervisors to ditch the slash-and-burn mentality of budget cuts and fund SVCC with $5,000 for fiscal year 2016-17 which will, in turn, not only support the college but the supervisors’ constituents.

Jordan Miles is managing editor of The Farmville Herald. His email address is jordan.miles@farmvilleherald.com.