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LLCC officials eye Beardstown programming options | Journal-Courier – Jacksonville Journal-Courier

Lincoln Land Community College officials are looking to find solutions to declining in-person enrollment at the Beardstown campus. 
BEARDSTOWN — A decline in enrollment for several in-person programs at its Beardstown campus has Lincoln Land Community College officials and community members looking for ways to increase available opportunities. 
LLCC officials and community leaders met last week to discuss the issue.
Student trends have shifted, leaving enrollment in many classes too low to be feasible for LLCC to staff with an in-person instructor, said Lynn Whalen, chief communications officer for LLCC. 
“We are seeing a pattern of students taking classes online, or on the Springfield or Jacksonville campuses,” Whalen said. “We wanted to bring everyone together to discuss what each person’s concerns were so that we can take all that and come up with options.”
The campus has well-established and -attended adult education and English as a Second Language programs, but low enrollment in general education courses is causing some courses to be moved online or canceled completely.
Beardstown Mayor Tim Harris, Cass County Board Chairman Michael Barnett and several school superintendents joined the discussion. 
Barnett felt the meeting was productive, he said. 
“We were given some of the hard details,” Barnett said. “When there are only 13 students, logistically, they don’t have the levels to hold classes. We want to try to get the highest number of students to be at the same place at the same time to get the instructors to Beardstown.”
Though Barnett said he understood the concerns about low enrollment, members who joined the discussion also brought up concerns about transportation and the time and ability to attend online courses. 
They also suggested some additional programs that might have more interest among local residents, such as a truck driver licensing school and certified nursing assistant classes. 
“It wasn’t about closing the school, it was about what we can do to get students at the campus,” Barnett said. “My hope is that this is the first meeting. We need to get a core group to sit down and think about the solutions.”
Some options include expanding dual-credit courses in partnership with area high schools, which would allow students to take one course and earn both high school class credit and LLCC credit toward a degree. 
“We have to see what we can do to improve those programs,” Whalen said. 
Online program enrollment is not a concern at this time, Whalen said. The school expanded its online courses during the pandemic and many of those students have remained online, Whalen said. 
LLCC has been working with students in the canceled courses to get them into later courses, Whalen said.
Those who do not have the ability to do online courses at home will have access to a computer lab at the Beardstown campus. 
So far, nothing has been decided and no plans have been proposed, Whalen said, noting this was the first of many meetings to find solutions. 
“There is no timetable to have it all figured out,” Whalen said. “The end goal is to work to provide for our students in light of the trends and patterns we are seeing.”
Samantha McDaniel-Ogletree has been a reporter for the Journal-Courier since May 2014. She joined the staff after graduating from Eastern Illinois University. The Cahokia native worked with her school newspaper in various editor roles.


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