Clatsop Community College continues to thrive academically and serve the community despite ongoing financial challenges, as Interim President Kevin LaCoste reaffirms the college’s commitment to its mission and students. CCC is determined to address the financial deficit that has accrued over recent years, primarily attributed to lower student enrollment, the acquisition of a new data system, and the assumption of debt.
Interim President LaCoste emphasized, “Our classes are full, and the college is active. Serving our students and community will continue while we address our financial deficit.”
CCC has witnessed a 6% increase in enrollment for the fall term of 2023 compared to the previous year. The headcount for the fall term of 2023 stands at 2,039 students, up from 1,922 students during the fall of 2022. Dean of Student Success Mirranda Saari commented, “The information included does not represent all of the ways the college earns enrollment but provides a positive indicator in our core programs.” Additional enrollment at CCC comes in through the term from workshop and late start classes as well as workforce training courses.
The gain in enrollment at CCC over the past 2 years is also a benefit to the allocation of funds through the state. The Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) in Oregon bases the state funding for community colleges on enrollment, and CCC stands out as one of the institutions with the largest increases in enrollment among the 17 community colleges in the state in 2022. Thanks to the remarkable 16.1% increase in enrollment over the previous year, CCC is set to receive an increase of 14.4% in funding, equivalent to approximately $538,000 in additional financial support.
The positive increase in enrollment and state allocated funds helps the financial outlook of CCC but does not negate all of CCC’s financial challenges. This was highlighted at the recent Board of Education meeting on October 12th, 2023, when LaCoste informed the board that CCC received notice of a recent downgrade from an A+ to an A- in its Standard & Poors (S&P) global rating which affects the college’s rating when attempting to secure bonds. CCC is not currently pursuing a bond, so while the news does not come at a critical time, the downgrade reflects the college’s challenged operating financial profile and increase in loan debt.
The S&P report called out the increase in loan debt to finance a new data management system for the college, the turnover in leadership this past year, and the budgeted deficit the college is operating at.
“CCC is operating at a deficit and we must right the ship and make sure the college can not only operate year to year on budget, but plan for cost increases, keep money in reserves to take care of our buildings properly and be prepared for unforeseen expenses,” stated LaCoste.
LaCoste and the leadership at CCC are looking closely at the college’s budget but are focusing holistically on the college’s goals to influence budget allocation at CCC. This includes the development of a data-informed strategic plan to guide decisions, ensuring they align with the institution’s mission, vision, and goals with how finances are spent. LaCoste and Vice President Teena Toyas have taken decisive steps to ensure CCC’s future. The college leadership has engaged with the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) to develop a plan for the 7-year accreditation cycle. A key finding from the last accreditation visit to CCC showed the lack of a data-informed strategic plan for the college. In response, LaCoste and Toyas have partnered with the Coraggio Group, a consultant firm, to work with the college in creating a data-informed strategic plan for CCC by the fall term of 2024.
Clatsop Community College remains focused in its commitment to providing high-quality education and continuing to serve its students and the community. These actions signify the college’s dedication to overcoming financial challenges and ensuring a brighter future.