A recommendation by South Carolina technical college leaders to merge Denmark Technical College with Orangeburg-Calhoun Tech is not going over well with some legislators.
State Rep. Lonnie Hosey, D-Barnwell, said at a press conference Wednesday that an audit should have been done before any type of recommendations were made. “To close a school without having a full study of what’s going on with it, we need that study and make recommendations from that study.”
In May 2017, Gov. Henry McMaster signed a law that transferred the oversight of Denmark Technical College from the local-area commission to the State Board for Technical and Comprehensive Education. After studying the idea, the state board voted in favor of the merger last month.
The recommendation cites the college’s enrollment declining significantly over the past several years — from 1,678 students in the fall of 2014 to 523 in fall 2017. This past fall, 406 students who live in the three-county service area of Allendale, Bamberg and Barnwell instead opted to attend one of the surrounding technical colleges rather than Denmark Tech. roughly 78 percent of those chose to attend Orangeburg-Calhoun Tech. The board said the lost enrollment has had a substantial negative impact on the college.
State Rep. Jerry Govan, D-Orangeburg, said the proposal from the SC Technical College System is only the first step. “It was sent to the chairman of the (House) Ways and Means (Committee), Senate Finance (Committee), governor and other key individuals.”
The Technical College System said the move is just a recommendation. Any action will have to be approved by the state legislature and signed by the governor