JACKSON - Pearl River Community College played a prominent role when supporters of the 15 Mississippi community colleges asked lawmakers to follow through on their 2007 commitment to mid_level funding.Dr. Kyle Hill, PRCC director of bands, led the Feb. 17 news conference as president of the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges Faculty Association. PRCC alumnus Dale Purvis, a member of the PRCC Board of Trustees, spoke on behalf of the business community.The community college system has seen tremendous growth over the past 10 years while providing record graduates into our workforce, Purvis said. But at the same time they have shouldered deep financial cuts in state funding. From a business owners standing, the community college system is of great value to me and other business owners.Purvis owns Comsouth Inc. in Hattiesburg.Mid_level mandates per_student funding for community colleges that is midway between per_student funding for K_12 students and regional public university students. The colleges need $134 million to completely achieve mid_level funding.Current year state appropriations funding decreased 10.3 percent over the previous year to below 2008 levels, which leaves the colleges struggling to meet the needs of more students with fewer state dollars. During the past 10 years community college enrollment has grown 54 percent while state support has declined by 26 percent.The mid_level funding law recognized our community college system as the best educational buy and recognized that funding has not kept pace with that of IHL and K_12, Hill said. However, with recent budget cuts we have fallen behind. Today finds our community colleges teach 74 percent of all freshmen enrolled in higher education in Mississippi; 58 percent of all undergraduates in Mississippi universities were enrolled at a community college.Two dozen PRCC faculty and students attended the news conference and met with legislators who represent the six counties in Pearl River district.