Members of the South Puget Sound Community College Board of Trustees and guests discussed the process for 2011-2012 supplemental budget reductions in early November. With significant budget reductions ahead in the 2012-2013 school year the SPSCC budget committee, council, and president are planning how to most effectively use money early on.
“Presidents can’t do it alone. They need trustees, business people, students, faculty, everybody working to make sure the needs of higher education are met,” said SPSCC President Gerald Pumphrey.
According to the projected timeline, the Board of Trustees will approve and finalize the budget cuts on Mar. 8.
The state legislature will go into the 2011 second special session on Nov. 28 to address the need to decide upon and implement state budget cuts.
“We have not essentially created the same noise level that the health and social service constituents have,” said Pumphrey when referring to higher education’s preparation for the special session.
“It’s clear to me that they don’t have a two thirds majority vote in the special session or in the regular to make a revenue adjustment,” said Pumphrey.
According to Pumphrey this means that there would need to be a referendum given to voters concerning raising taxes. A referendum is a general vote by electoral districts on a single issue.
The SPSCC Board of Trustees meeting included a budget presentation by the Director of Budgeting Services Mary An Schmidt.
The budget presentation included the process in which the college will make budget cuts. The Board of Trustees will first create priorities and principles.
Ideas for budget reduction will be looked at by the college president’s staff. Next the budget committee will look at the proposal. The college council will confirm the work of the committee and the president will recommend the approved proposal for the budget to the Board of Trustees.
The Budget Committee is comprised of SPSCC students, faculty, and staff.
The committee will meet four to five times before the end of January to arrange budget ideas to write up recommendations to the College Council for the college’s budget reduction.
Schmidt provided all meeting attendees with a document with the 2010-2013 Strategic Plan and Assessment.
When combining the current biennial budget and the new supplemental reduction at 20 percent, the total budget reduction for 2012-2013 is targeted at $3.01 million. The revenue from an increase in tuition prices is projected to cause a $961,829 increase in revenue.
The net budget reduction is projected to be $2.05 million, so planning for budget cut ideas will commence around this number.
“We feel it’s pretty important that we begin our planning efforts now,” said Schmidt. “It’ll take six months to maybe even a year to do implementation.”
Schmidt also relayed the proposal that SPSCC hire an outside facilitator for budget matters.
“We do anticipate some pretty difficult conversations,” said Schmidt regarding budget cuts.
The idea of hiring an outside facilitator was well received by board members.
According to Pumphrey tuition prices at SPSCC are substantially higher than some other community and technical colleges in the state, but are close to the national average.
New polling from the Elway polling group commissioned by Central Washington University shows the opinion that higher education is valued in Washington, but citizens do not feel like the educations they are receiving are worth the current tuition prices.
The polling did not ask if citizens would be willing to pay higher taxes to support higher education.
“That really is the question that has to be answered when people decide to vote for revenue or not. There are a lot of mixed signals in this polling data,” said Pumphrey.