While the Clatsop Community College campus is undergoing a major physical transformation, the student population is surging this year with students returning to college in droves.

Student enrollment at the college has gone up more than 20 percent this fall, Greg Hamann, the college's president, told the college's board of directors at a Tuesday night board meeting.

This term, 2,175 students are enrolled, boosting the full-time equivalent significantly. Last year, 7,002 students attended the school during all four terms, a 7 percent increase from the previous year.

This fall at CCC, more classes have been added to hold the new students and chances are those classes are full.

The surge has a financial benefit for the college, said Stephen Schoonmaker, vice president of instruction.

"For the same expense, we're teaching more students," Schoonmaker said. Classes that might have held 15 students last year are now holding over 20, he explained. Automotive and welding classes at CCC's Marine and Environmental Research and Training Station, or MERTS, are full, and the new Historic Preservation and Restoration program has easily hit target goals to fill classrooms as well.

The jump mirrors what's happening in the state, said Cam Preus, a commissioner with the Oregon Department of Community Colleges and Workforce Development, who presented data to the board.

Preus explained that since 2003, enrollment has grown steadily, topping out at over 400,000 total students in the state last year. Data is not ready yet for this year.

But while more students are going to Oregon's community colleges, state financial support for the institutions is on the downswing.

"If you feel like you've been tightening your belt, you have been," Preus told the board. Six jobs were eliminated from the college's budget this year, in that slim down. State support per student slipped from $2,778 during the 2007-09 biennium to $2,252 for the current biennium, Preus explained.

Board member Frank Satterwhite asked Preus for a budget outlook considering the current rocky economy.

"In a word, lousy. We need to stretch ourselves to provide access, so people can get skills to carry them into recovery," she said.

In other board business,

? the board heard from Deputy Clerk Lindi Overton about the $2-plus million Go Oregon deferred maintenance projects. She explained that many are completed and are awaiting final construction sign-offs.

? Overton told the board that a number of the college's neighbors have expressed concerns about parking in the area surrounding the campus. Because of construction, parking on campus is currently very limited, and Overton said a meeting may be held with the city to discuss possible solutions.

? The board voted unanimously to allow Hamann to sign the intergovernmental agreement with Clatsop County taxing districts to release $4 million the county has held to resolve a legal suit with Wauna Mill. Hamann explained that accepting the $128,000 share of the taxes would likely have no impact on the college's finances. But, doing so could allow the Seaside School District to access $800,000 it desperately needs to pay salaries and other expenses this year. "While it doesn't help us, it doesn't hurt us either. We believe this is a good, cooperative effort on the part of the college," Hamann said.

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