Senate panel backs state takeover of struggling Denmark Tech

S.C. senators on Wednesday advanced a proposal calling for the S.C. Technical College System to take over faltering Denmark Technical College.

Enrollment at the two-year college in rural Bamberg County has dropped to about 600 from 1,800, according to Tim Hardee, president of the S.C. Technical College System.

In four years, its cash on hand has plummeted to about $285,000 from just over $9 million, Hardee said, adding local students are choosing to drive to three other nearby technical colleges.

“They’re in financial distress,” Hardee said of Denmark Tech.

Members of Denmark Tech’s governing board oppose the move, calling it the first step toward closing the school and reassigning students in its three-county service area to other tech colleges.

Proponents have said intervention is necessary to save the school.

Hardee said the Technical College System would attempt to modernize Denmark Tech’s courses and build partnerships between the Bamberg school and others nearby.

Avery G. Wilks: 803-771-8362, @averygwilks