SOWELA expanding into Allen Parish - FOX29 Lake Charles

SOWELA expanding into Allen Parish

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(Source: Maranda Whittington/KPLC) (Source: Maranda Whittington/KPLC)

Sixteen - that's how many times higher education in Louisiana has been cut in the last nine years.

"From eight years ago to today, and into the future, the state's investment in higher education is shrinking," said SOWELA Chancellor Neil Aspinwall.  

Now community and technical colleges from around the state have been working to find a solution to this problem. 

"Among those 13 institutions, there's probably 40 to 42 campuses; many of those in rural areas and many of those are very small and with the way the state's budget has shrunk many people would say that some of those need to be closed," said Aspinwall. "But this was a move to save those campuses."

That move is a statewide consolidation where those small campuses will merge with larger ones.  

Aspinwall said that SOWELA will actually be acquiring one of the Central Louisiana Technical Community College campuses.

"The campus that will be transitioning to us will be the campus in Oakdale," said Aspinwall.

 But Aspinwall assures that no jobs will be cut and this will allow SOWELA to gain new programs - like forestry. 

"That's a big forestry area of the state that we don't have," he said. 

It also allows SOWELA to move to Allen Parish.  

"Dual enrollment is a big business for us, so that'll also allow us to go into Allen Parish school system and offer more dual enrollment classes," said Aspinwall.

 And it will allow residents in Allen Parish to get the training they need to get jobs in Lake Charles. 

"Some of the jobs we know are available here provide that training in Allen Parish so we can train those and they can take advantage of some of these jobs," said Aspinwall.

 But Aspinwall sees this a good thing and another way for the campus to generate money.

"I consider this positive; it allows us to continue to grow our enrollment; it allows us to offer some services into Allen Parish and allows SOWELA to grow," he said.

 The consolidations will take effect in July.

Aspinwall said that because Central Louisiana Technical College has the same tuition rate as SOWELA's students at the Oakdale campus, so they won't see a difference in their tuition. 

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