- Associated Press - Monday, January 16, 2017

OPELIKA, Ala. (AP) - Community colleges are seeking more workforce development support from the Alabama Legislature.

The Alabama Community College System board of trustees is pushing for a $20 million budget increase for workforce development, the Opelika-Auburn News (https://bit.ly/2ikkTI8) reported. The trustees on Wednesday approved the system’s legislative agenda as part of a $28.5 million requested budget increase.

The agenda is also seeking additional funding for a dual enrollment program allowing high schools to take community college classes while pursuing a high school degree.

If passed by legislature, it would bring the system’s total budget to $382.35 million.

Community College System acting chancellor Jimmy Baker called the workforce development program “stagnant.”

“I don’t mean that in a critical way, it’s just that it hadn’t been dealt with in terms of the skills training programs and the certification programs they have,” Baker said.

Community colleges are requesting the dual-enrollment budget to be increased by $5 million to a total of $15.2 million. The dual-enrollment program, which is funded by the community college system, allows high school students to take college-level classes for skill-based degrees.

“We have not had the funds to meet the demand any year that we have had the program,” Baker said.

Marry Scott Hunter, a member of the Alabama State Board of Education, supports the dual-enrollment program. Hunter is a non-voting member of the community college trustees.

“That’s extremely important for our students,” Hunter said. “It’s a good partnership with the K-12 and the Alabama Community College systems.”

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