Audit: Lakeland Community College’s Trajectory ‘Unsustainable’

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Lakeland Community College in Kirtland is overstaffed and burdened with debt related to underused facilities and enrollment declines, state auditors determined during a recent review of the college’s operations.

The college stands at the precipice of fiscal watch, and administrators will have to make difficult decisions related to workforce, class and program offerings and facilities to remain in operation, a news release states.

“We have serious concerns about the college’s ability to continue to serve the residents of Lake County,” state Auditor Keith Faber said in the release. “LKCC’s trajectory is unsustainable.”

The concerns, along with recommendations to address the downward enrollment trends, are included in a performance audit of the college released Tuesday by the Auditor of State’s Ohio Performance Team, which reviews the operations of government agencies and programs and offers recommendations to improve their efficiency and effectiveness.

Lakeland Community College primarily serves the residents of Lake County, east of Cleveland, offering two-year associate degree programs, professional certifications and other continuing education opportunities. 

At its peak in 2012, enrollment at the college topped 9,400 students. Enrollment has declined steadily since then and totaled about 5,000 students as of the fall semester of 2022. However, the college’s administration historically “has not made decisions to reflect the changes in operations,” auditors noted. “Staffing has not been significantly reduced, new facilities have been acquired, and courses are being held with minimal enrollment.” 

While some administrative staffing cuts were implemented by the board during the course of the audit, the college needs to make progress in a variety of operational areas, the release states.

Among other observations, the audit found:

  • Though the number of classroom and lab spaces maintained by the college exceeds the demand of the student body, the college recently broke ground on a 16,000-square-foot expansion to its main campus.
  • A building purchased by the college in 2014 for $13.5 million, financed through the issuance of bonds, is no longer in use.
  • Members of the college’s board of trustees were unaware of the college’s deteriorating financial condition.

Tuesday’s report includes 10 recommendations to address the enrollment and financial issues, including adopting a policy for canceling low-enrollment courses and adjusting faculty staffing accordingly and reviewing facility usage to make changes as needed, including potentially mothballing some space and/or leasing and selling property.

Pictured at top: Lakeland Community College in Kirtland. (Facebook | Lakeland Community College)

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.