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Blue Ridge CTC looks to continue growth

July 16, 2009|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- With enrollment projections on track to top 2,500 students this fall, Blue Ridge Community and Technical College continues to pursue options for expansion while searching for a new main campus, officials said Wednesday.

Members of the school's Board of Governors on Wednesday toured a 6,379-square-foot expansion at the school's technology center, which is in the former World Kitchen/Corning Glass Works facility at 5550 Winchester Ave.

The school still has an option to lease about 10,000 more square feet of the building under a 10-year agreement college President Peter Checkovich signed in April 2008.

The expansion, which increases the college's technology center to 29,540 square feet, will provide room for computer-aided design and manufacturing programs, mechatronics and a physical therapist assistant program and general education courses, said George Perry, the school's dean of allied health sciences.

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The college offers associate degrees, certificates and certification training in a wide range of fields, encompassing the liberal arts, business administration and various allied health fields.

The tech center already is home to the school's electric distribution technology program and training facility, which the college launched last year in partnership with Allegheny Energy and the Cisco Systems networking curriculum.

Leslie See, the college's enrollment management director, told governing board members Wednesday all early indicators point to enrollment figures that will meet, if not exceed, the school's goal of having 2,700 students enrolled this fall.

See agreed with board member Bill Lucht that the school's enrollment growth appeared to be following a national trend in tough economic times. She said 1,224 federal financial aid applicants as of Tuesday had listed the school as a potential option on the forms.

That number nearly equals the total number (1,578) of forms filed in the previous academic year, See said.

Even with continued student enrollment growth, Checkovich said during the Board of Governors meeting the school did not receive extra money in its operating budget and lamented the college shouldn't have to "scratch, scrape and claw" for more state support.

"I don't think that's right," said Checkovich, pushing for the board to support efforts to get more funding in the next funding cycle.

In addition to the tech center expansion, the college this year announced the development of off-site campuses at Charles Town (W.Va.) Races & Slots and Quad/Graphics northwest of Martinsburg.

The school also has been working with the Berkeley County Commission to offer hands-on culinary courses in the second floor of the county's office building at 400 W. Stephen St. The college has been leasing the first floor of what is known as the Dunn Building from the county for its main campus.

College spokeswoman Sandy Sponaugle said Wednesday the school still is working on obtaining land for a new campus.

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