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* Trustees get early look at budget numbers

Budgets and the implications of them were front and center for the Shoreline Community College Board of Trustees at their meeting May 23, 2012.

Agenda items

Other items presented at the May 23, 2012 Board of Trustees meeting included:

  • Student recognitions
    • DECA national competition finalists
    • Phi Theta Kappa participants
    • Softball team
    • Tennis team

  • Program report: Health Informatics and Information Management
  • Core theme report: College Stewardship

While most of the agenda items were informational, setting the stage for budget adoption at their June meeting, the trustees did take action in one fiscal area.

The board voted unanimously to redirect a portion its own reserve account that has been paying the salary of Jane McNabb, Chief Advancement Officer and Executive Director of the Shoreline Community College Foundation. Starting July 1, the $90,000 allotment will be aimed at a new position that will focus on external government relations.

President Lee Lambert said that with increased uncertainty around funding and policy at the state and federal levels, the college needs to have a more consistent presence with those lawmakers. Trustee Shoubee Liaw, who worked in Olympia this past session, noted that while President Lambert and other college staff make frequent trips to the Legislature and have ongoing contact, a deeper presence is needed. Lambert said the new position would also handle his social media communications duties.

The resolution approved by the trustees also included a suggestion that the general college budget include half-time funding for the Advancement/Foundation position held by McNabb. Lambert told the board that McNabb had suggested the change.

Lambert also announced that the college is adding a grant writer, duties that have been parceled out to a variety of deans and directors in recent years. That position has been filled and Brandon Rogers, who held a similar job at Clover Park Technical College, is scheduled to start Tuesday, May 29, 2012. Lambert said the position is needed as the college pursues a variety of federal and private grant opportunities and dedicated state funding for higher education continues to decline.

That decline was made clear by Vice President for Administrative Services Daryl Campbell in a budget presentation during the board’s study session.

Campbell pointed out that the college now receives less than half of its total budget from the State of Washington. The shift in funding from a direct state allocation to state-mandated increases in tuition paid by students is the cause, Campbell said. He also pointed out that despite the headlines of a no-cuts state budget for higher education, the college will actually see about $1.25 million less from state for the coming fiscal year.

Campbell noted the current draft budget for the college anticipates increased spending for the International Education and Virtual College strategic initiatives. He also pointed out that the suggested operating budget spending level includes about a 2 percent deficit. Campbell told the board he is comfortable with covering that gap from anticipated surpluses from the current year budget.

This was a first-look at proposed spending for the coming fiscal year that starts July 1. The board is scheduled to adopt the 2012-13 budget in June.

Other money-related agenda items were centered on various student fees. In the study-session, student government presented a revenue-neutral fee shifting proposal. The regular-session included updates by Technical Support Services Director Gary Kalbfleisch on the first-year experience with a consolidated college technology fee and by Financial Services Director Stuart Trippel on state tuition increases as well as college-requested fee adjustments.

The students propose to reduce the student technology fee and increase the student services and activities (SS&A) fee by the same amount. They would also make a one-time transfer of funds from the student technology fee budget to SS&A. The shifts would increase the total budget, but not actually add any cost to students.

Why the moves? The goal, student leaders said, is to fund a pilot project referred to as Echo. Echo is software that can track students’ involvement in extra-curricular activities such student clubs and service-learning opportunities. Echo can then produce a verifiable, college-endorsed transcript of those activities that students can take with them, along with their official academic transcript, when applying to universities or for jobs. Echo is Shoreline’s implementation of the CollegiateLink product from Campus Labs, Inc.

Student leaders outlined two proposals, one at $1.18 million and the preferred alternative at $1.3 million. The student budget supports a long list of key activities and services at the college, including the athletics, art gallery, concert band and other musical groups, the student newspaper, discounts at the Parent Child Center and student government itself. President Lambert said the college supported the preferred alternative.

Kalbfleisch spoke to effectiveness and uses of the consolidated college technology fee that the trustees approved a year ago and was implemented for the current fiscal year.

The consolidated fee took the place of a variety of individual course technology fees and other assessments. The goals were to provide a stable funding source for computer and other technology replacement and establish a technology initiative fund for new projects. The TSS director said those goals are being met.

The fee has generated about $1.1 million so far this year and has funded a long list of technology upgrades across campus. Kalbfleisch also outlined projects that will be funded for the coming year by the initiative fund, many tied to the Virtual College strategic initiative.

Trippel took on the difficult chore of explaining how a seemingly simple pronouncement from legislators for a 12 percent tuition increase can turn into almost nothing that actually increases by that amount.

The disconnect, Trippel and others told the board, is that while lawmakers authorize the increase, the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges decides how it is implemented. This year, for example, the state board chose to apply one rate of increase to the first 10 credits a student takes and a different rate to credits above that threshold. So, any particular student might see tuition increases that don’t add up to 12 percent.

And, when adding various fees based on student choice to that picture, it becomes almost impossible to see where a legislatively mandated 12 percent tuition increase shows up on a student’s bill.

Trippel went over the fee hikes proposed for next year, including increases for non-students at the Parent Child Center, materials fees for the CNC Machining program and others.

Jim Hills/SCC

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