THE CHALLENGE faced by Baltimore City Community College, which celebrates its 50th anniversary today, is intimidating. Taking students who typically performed poorly in high school, BCCC has built its reputation on providing them the skills to become more productive members of the community. By making such students eligible for higher education or immediate careers, the college improves not only their quality of life but life in Maryland.
Yet the state does not adequately recognize this fact. To do so would require admission that Maryland has never completely fulfilled its past promises to improve funding greatly for BCCC. In fact, overall education funding cuts caused by the national recession in the early 1990s have eroded BCCC's state support.
Today, BCCC annually receives $3,139 in state aid per full-time student, compared to an average of $3,689 at the other 17 community colleges in Maryland.
But the other institutions also receive local aid, something BCCC has not gotten from financially strapped Baltimore since the city government gave up the college seven years ago. The state promised to fill the void. It must.
BCCC is proposing that its funding be increased over a three-year period to 68 percent of what four-year colleges
receive per-student from the state. BCCC currently receives about 51 percent of the state's per-student allocation to four-year schools. Under its proposal, current state funding to BCCC of about $18 million annually would increase to $22 million by 2001.
It would be money well spent.
BCCC is making a tremendous contribution to Maryland. Its average student is an unmarried woman with children, about 30 years old. Through programs that first provide many of these college students basic reading and math skills, BCCC prepares them to join the work force or get better jobs. Its doors are open to everyone.
BCCC has worked hard to contain costs and operate more efficiently since the state took it over. But its state funding has increased only 9.2 percent since 1991, compared to a 19.3 percent increase for the other community colleges.
The state has provided some additional one-time grants and funded the BCCC Life Sciences Building. Now it needs to address BCCC's inadequate operating budget. The school's work is too valuable to take for granted.
Pub Date: 9/18/97