EAST PEORIA — Illinois Central College may finally be stemming years of declines in student enrollment.

Though the community college didn’t meet its goal of increasing fall enrollment by 2017 by two percent, enrollment declined by less than one-half percent, the lowest drop since 2010.

“We were one of the lucky ones,” David Cook, executive director of research and planning, told ICC board members Thursday after comparing the school’s numbers to similar community colleges and four-year state universities.

Compared to fall 2016, enrollment declined 0.3 percent, based on student count, and 1.4 percent, based on total credit hours, Cook said.

The 0.3 percent drop — from 9,290 in 2016 to 9,266 — was the lowest among seven other community colleges in the region. The decrease in total credit hours — from 79,772.5 to 78,624.5 — was the smallest single year decline since fall 2010.

The average decrease among the eight colleges — including ICC, Heartland Community College in Normal, and Black Hawk College in Moline — was 6.2 percent in both student count and credit hours.

ICC’s minority enrollment increased in general, Cook said, marked by “substantial” increases among African-American students, particularly African-American females.

Declines are leveling off across all age groups, including adults, a segment ICC targeted aggressively as part of its strategic plan to increase enrollment by two percent. While the school planned to increase adult enrollment by 50 students and 300 credit hours, fall enrollment numbers showed an increase of 109 students and 327 credit hours.

While administrators and board members sounded optimistic about ongoing strategies to increase enrollment, President Sheila Quirk-Bailey pointed out that the 2017-18 budget is based, in part, on revenue generated by a two percent increase in enrollment.

The college will be able to make up the loss caused by a decline in total credit hours, she said, but it will be more of a struggle to adjust the budget to deal with not meeting the two percent goal.

Board members approved extending a 2.1 percent raise for Quirk-Bailey and extended her contract to June 30, 2020. She was hired in 2016 on a three-year contract at an annual base salary of $245,000. Her new salary will be $250,145.

Pam Adams can be reached at 686-3245 or padams@pjstar.com. Follow her on Twitter @padamspam.