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Difficult choices ahead for Lakeland Community College amid declining enrollment, underused facilities

Ohio Auditor of State

COLUMBUS – Lakeland Community College (LKCC) in northeast Ohio is overstaffed and burdened with debt related to facilities that are significantly underused because of continued declines in student enrollment over the past decade, state auditors determined during a recent review of the college’s operations.

LKCC now stands at the precipice of fiscal watch (, and administrators will have to make difficult decisions related to work force, class and program offerings, and facilities to remain in operation.

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

The concerns, along with recommendations to address the downward enrollment trends, are included in a Performance Audit of LKCC 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. 

Copies of the full report are available online via Search Audits (

LKCC 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 LKCC topped 9,400 students. Enrollment has declined steadily since then and totaled about 5,000 students as of the fall semester of 2022. However, college 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.

Among other observations, Tuesday’s audit found:

• Though the number of classroom and lab spaces maintained by the college greatly 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 LKCC in 2014 for $13.5 million, financed through the issuance of bonds, is no longer in use.
Members of LKCC’s Board of Trustees were unaware of the college’s deteriorating financial condition.

The 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.

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