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Enrollment drops at Kan. comm. colleges

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) -- Enrollment has dropped this year at the 19 community colleges in Kansas, according to a report from the Kansas Board of Regents.

The report says community college enrollments are down 3.82 percent, which is a drop of 3,095 students from last fall. The total number of students at the colleges was 77,829 when classes started, The Wichita Eagle reported ( ).

The largest statewide decline was at Kansas City Kansas Community College, which lost 911 students from last fall, a 12.77 percent drop to a total 6,575 student population.

Brian Bode, the college's vice president for financial and administrative services, told the newspaper the best-case scenario would be that the college hangs on to some of the enrollment it added during the recession, when its student body went from 5,800 in 2008 to 7,500 in 2010.

Community colleges in Kansas and across the nation saw increases in enrollment during the recession as people who lost jobs went back to school to boost their resumes or train for different careers.

Other community college administrators say they were aware the drop was coming.

"We knew the graduation rates in our area were decreasing. That was a piece of it," said Kimberly Krull, president of Butler Community College, which is down 588 students this fall, a drop of 5.91 percent from last fall.

Ed Berger, president of Hutchinson Community College, said HCC had a 60 percent increase in enrollment over the last 10 years. This year, enrollment at the college is down 31 students, or .5 percent, from last fall, according to the regents' report.

"I guess I see that as a correction more than anything," Berger said.

The board's count is based on the fall semester's first 20 days. Enrollment may go up as students sign up for a second eight-week schedule and for online courses.