An Independent Community College CARROLL COUNTY

January 07, 1993

Carroll County deserves its own community college. It should not be content having an appendage of the Baltimore County system. For a rapidly growing metropolitan county and a college with a growing enrollment, that much should be clear.

Independence from Catonsville Community College, of which Carroll Community College is a branch, would give the county institution more state aid and would give Carroll citizens more control over the institution's curriculum and budget.

There is a problem, however. As usual it concerns money -- or the lack of it.

The state must make the decision to grant Carroll's college independence. But the state is woefully short of money, and would be hard pressed to find the extra $1 million or so that an independent Carroll Community College would receive.

What should be an obvious decision of sovereignty and educational quality for Carroll County has turned into another state budgetary call. State education officials have made the funds for independence a low priority in the next fiscal year's budget request.

Nevertheless, Carroll Community College is asking for a 16 percent budget increase to $7.3 million for 1993-94, with most of the hike expected to come from state aid. The increase would fund the additional staff, materials and accreditation expenses associated with independence.

The Baltimore County community colleges board must act on the Carroll budget request in February. It will likely cut the request, and that would jeopardize the college's ability to cut free even if the state should approve independence.

College officials are not asking Carroll County for more money this year. They don't want to raise opposition from the county commissioners. But it seems obvious that the commissioners may well be asked to make up any shortfall in state money for CCC. Another tuition hike alone won't do it.

But the shortage of state funds won't improve next year or the year after, and Carroll's needs will continue to be tied to those of Baltimore County.

That is even more reason for Carroll County to assert its demand for an independent college now, to gain its proper share of whatever state aid is available and to control its own future in higher education.

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