The auditor with McClanahan Holmes presented the Paris Junior College Board of Regents with a clean bill of financial health, though representative Teffany Kavanaugh noted a drop in revenue due to a late start this fall.

“Overall, everything else looks comparable to prior years,” she said.

Cody Helm, the controller for the college, agreed.

“As of January, the revenue is still $3 million under where we were (last year),” he said. “And that is due to the pandemic.”

Later on in the meeting, during her board updates, President Pam Anglin told the board enrollment in colleges across the nation is down because so many students are sitting out the year, and PJC isn’t exempt from that.

“Enrollment is down 10.47%,” she said. “A lot of them chose to sit out this year.”

And, given the national statistics on the matter, if they skip a year, many are not likely to come back to college, she added.

“That can impact the entire country,” she said.

However, she said the college’s finances have been lean and flexible. The college has a 10% higher graduation rate, though over 80% of its students receive financial aid, compared to the state average where 68% are on financial aid with only a 24% graduation rate.

In an update to the board on federal Covid relief, Anglin said she checked her email last week to find the college had an additional $4 million in funds.

The new influx of funding does have some strings attached, she said. Approximately $1.1 million will have to go to the students, however, she believes a good portion of the money can be used to help make up for lost revenue.

“We’ll be looking at that closely over the next few weeks,” Anglin said.

The Texas Legislature has started its biennial session, and the initial appropriations bill shows a drop in funding from the state, she said.

“It’s a flat formula for community colleges,” Anglin said.

This past year was a counting year for the college, a year the legislature uses as a measuring tool for how much to give to colleges and universities. The initial bill presented had the college’s share down $500,000, she said, from the $7.9 million the college received last legislative session.

“It’s a pretty hefty hit,” she said.

But there is still a lot of public debate left in the session.

With some of the Covid-relief funding, the college has purchased its own rapid tests for athletes who are traveling and dorm students.

“It’s just surveillance testing,” she said. “We don’t want to put a busload of students (to a game) and one of them have Covid.”

The college has hired three of its nursing students to administer the tests, and dorm students will get tested at least once a week.

Last week, the college hosted a vaccine clinic for the new coronavirus vaccine, Anglin told the board, and it was “a true example” of the community pulling together, with local government on all levels coming together to make it happen, from the college to the health department to the county, local EMS and police. Licensed vocational nurses from the college gave the shots, she said.

“We are showing the state we are able to make Lamar County a (vaccine distribution) hub,” she said. “We’ve got all the parts in place to do that.”

She said Dr. Amanda Green with Paris Regional Medical Center was going to make some calls, along with Sen. Bryan Hughes, and they were going to talk to nearby Titus County about teaming up to become a hub.

Another vaccination clinic will happen this Friday, with 400 shots expected for the people on their first round of the vaccine, and 200 doses for people on their second round. She is proud of the number of volunteers who have showed up to help.

“We had 10 cheerleaders and their sponsor to call people on the list when their vaccination was scheduled,” she said. “I am working on getting volunteers for Friday for data entry and registration tables. It’s been really, really good.”

Kim Cox is a staff writer for The Paris News. She can be reached at 903-785-6965 or at kim.cox@theparisnews.com.

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