SHERIDAN — The Northern Wyoming Community College District may have to find a way to do more with less. 

At its Thursday meeting, NWCCD board members and college officials discussed a potential surge in graduation rates in the near future and what challenges may arise as a result.

Data provided by NWCCD suggests that enrollment should grow substantially over the next several years. The list details the projected number of graduates from Wyoming high schools, which is expected to increase by 24.4 percent from 2011-12 to 2025-26. 

The data indicates that the highest number of graduates should peak in the 2025-26 school year with 7,031 graduates. However, those numbers may be altered due to the recent downturn in the economy.

Dr. Paul Young, president of the NWCCD, said recent cuts to the budget may force the college to be creative with its expansion efforts in the coming years. 

“We are going to have less money, but we are going to have more demand,” Young said. “We are going to have to be more clever and mindful of how we do the things that we can do to meet that demand.” 

With its building efforts, Sheridan College has plenty of physical capacity, but problems may arise from what’s inside the new buildings. Young said that finding the funds for faculty, staff and programs may be difficult.

Like all state agencies, NWCCD faces a 1-percent cut this fiscal year and a 1.4-percent cut the following year. The cuts resulted in the elimination of seven administrative positions at Sheridan College in 2016. 

Despite the cuts, board members and officials said the college must find a way to provide an effective and efficient education, as it could have a significant impact on the future economy. 

“What do you see happening?” Young asked board members. “If (graduates) are going to go to college, they are going to go to college in state or out of state. If they go to college out of state, they don’t come back (to Wyoming).”

In other news:

Sheridan College officials discussed the future of the Sheridan College tech center expansion project. While the college has some of the funds for the project in hand from Whitney Benefits, the college is still waiting for the state to chip in the rest.

In the meantime, college officials will take steps toward beginning the project in order to save on construction costs.