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Enrollment at Niagara County Community College declined by 4.5 percent from last year, the college's board of trustees was told Wednesday.

Mary Jane Feldman, NCCC coordinator of institutional research, said the administration's enrollment projection of 5,076 for the fall 1997 semester was off by 229 students.

She said fall semester enrollment is 4,847 students, a 4.5 percent decrease from last year.

Ms. Feldman said "The unemployment rate in Niagara County is down, and there's some suspicion when people are working, they are not going to school."

"Students are taking somewhat more credit hours per person than was projected," she said. The largest decline was among non-matriculating students -- those who have not yet chosen a major -- from 491 in 1996-97 to 380 this year.

College President Gerald L. Miller told the group that he could see progress from some initiatives by the trustees and administration.

The NCCC Guarantee, which guarantees that students will be able to graduate in two years if they maintain a C average, has been guiding students to take at least 12 credit hours a semester to qualify for the program, Miller said.

Miller added that as more high school seniors opt to continue their education, more will choose NCCC.

In addition, Miller said, changes in the welfare system have affected NCCC enrollment.

"Certainly all the welfare moms that we were dealing with. . . . Now they're with short-term training by law," said Miller.

In another matter, the trustees voted, 8-0, to accept $439,888 in grants, including a $298,000 grant from the federal Small Business Administration to allow the college to continue operating its Small Business Development Center. The grant also will allow the program to expand to a satellite location on the Geneseo State College campus.

The trustees also accepted a continuation grant of $57,300 from the state Department of Social Services for the county Department of Social Services Employee Training program. "This program will continue to increase employment opportunities and upgrade skills of existing Social Services employees," said Miller.

In other matters, the board:

Appointed Deanna Alterio-Brennen associate director for economic development at the Small Business Development Center. Her $28,000 salary will be funded through a federal grant.

Reappointed Thomas Bruss associate director of training at the Small Business Development Center at $36,877 a year, a 3 percent raise. His position also is federally funded.

Elected the following new officers: chairwoman, Joan W. Wolfgang; vice chairwoman, Teresa A. McEvoy; and secretary, F. Robert Sdao. The trustees did not vote on whether to hold Trustee David J. DiCamillo over as financial secretary.

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