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Enrollment Dropped At CCAC, But Numbers For Summer, Fall Look Promising

CCAC Homewood - Katie Blackley - 10-9-17.JPG
Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA
Many colleges saw declining enrollment last fall and spring due to the pandemic, including the Community College of Allegheny County.

On today’s program: Community College of Allegheny County’s vice president of enrollment management discusses enrollment changes during the pandemic, what comes next in the summer and fall; Pittsburgh Public Schools are scrambling to hire more bus drivers ahead of all students returning to in-person school on May 3; and a look at the reputation of U.S. Senate candidate John Fetterman in Braddock, where he served as mayor for 13 years.

Community college enrollment is down due to the pandemic
(0:00 — 7:24)

According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, enrollment in community colleges across the nation dropped by 9.5% in both the fall and spring semesters compared to the prior year. That’s twice the decline at four year public universities.

Brian Sajko, the vice president of enrollment management at Community College of Allegheny County, says the college saw an even bigger drop in student enrollment than the average, with about 11% fewer students enrolling. Enrollment for fall 2020 was 13,267 students, and spring 2021 enrollment was at 11,169 students.

“We did a survey to see about students who had been enrolled and didn’t enroll and the number one reason for sure was about finances and concern for finances,” says Sajko.

Two-thirds of the college’s students are enrolled part-time, and Sajko says many students do so out of necessity because they’re working multiple jobs and were likely most impacted by the pandemic.

“African American men had the greatest decline [in enrollment], groups that had lower incomes, just kind of that exact same thing where it was about survival,” says Sajko.

He says the drop wasn’t quite as concerning as it could have been because it’s happening across higher education, and the cause is known.

Enrollment numbers for upcoming semesters are already promising.

“We’re up already for summer, compared to last year, we’re up about 20% in enrollment,” says Sajko. “Applications for the fall are up about 33%, so I do believe that that wave is coming our way.”

Pittsburgh Public Schools needs more bus drivers
(7:29 — 12:33)

As more Pittsburgh Public School students return to in-person learning, the district is facing another hurdle to getting students in the classroom: transportation.

The district says it’s short 1,200 bus seats to accommodate all students returning to schools on May 3.

“Any student that would fall within the seat gap, that means that there are no available seats on buses that are already transporating to their school,” says Megan Patton, director of pupil transportation with PPS.

“The bus driver shortage has been ongoing for a number of years, but due to the pandemic it has worsened,” says Patton.“Currently, the bus contractors are facing challenges as drivers are going on leave or calling off, and the lack of flexibility.”

Patton says some drivers left the industry for other jobs, or due to a concern about contracting COVID-19, but the district did offer drivers vaccinations when it vaccinated all other district staff and faculty.

The district contracts with about 20 bus driving companies and is developing a campaign to help them hire more drivers.

In the meantime, Patton says students who don’t have bus seats will be offered Port Authority Connect tickets.

John Fetterman has Western Pennsylvania roots, but not everyone is a fan
(12:37 — 18:00)

Pennsylvania lieutenant governor John Fetterman is one of the highest-profile candidates in the 2022 U.S. Senate race.

The Democrat built his political reputation in Braddock where he was mayor for 13 years.

Keystone Crossroads’ Katie Meyer reports, the borough is both his bedrock, and home to some of his biggest critics.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Kevin Gavin is the host of WESA's news interview program "The Confluence." He is a native Pittsburgher and served as news director for 90.5 WDUQ for 34 years. Since the sale of the radio station by Duquesne University to Pittsburgh EPM, Inc. (now Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting Corp.), he served as Executive Producer of Special News Projects prior to being named as host of "The Confluence" five years ago. kgavin@wesa.fm
Marylee is the editor/producer of The Confluence, the daily public affairs show on WESA. She got her start in journalism at The Daily Reveille and KLSU while attending Louisiana State University. She took her passion for audio journalism to UC Berkeley's graduate program and worked in public radio at WPR in Madison, WI, and WOSU in Columbus, Ohio.
Laura Tsutsui is a producer for The Confluence, WESA's morning news show. Previously, she reported on the San Joaquin Valley with the NPR affiliate station in her hometown of Fresno, California. She can be reached at ltsutsui@wesa.fm.
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