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FARMINGTON – The San Juan College Board approved a mid-year budget reduction of about $1.38 million and a proposed budget for the upcoming school year that features cuts to expenses as the college faces declining revenue.

During Tuesday night's board meeting, board members approved a proposed budget for the 2016-2017 school year of $51.7 million, a drop of $2.1 million from the college’s mid-year budget for the current school year of $53.8 million, according to Ed DesPlas, the vice president for administrative services.

Reductions in revenue were projected based on declines in enrollment, the condition of the oil and gas market, and a decline in state funding, DesPlas said.

President Toni Pendergrass said she is confident that the staff and faculty will help the college manage the economic challenges.

“While we are all feeling the pressure of our financial constraints on our resources, we view these circumstances as lean but manageable,” Pendergrass said after the meeting.

The college radio station KSJE will remain open but will change its business model to a listener-supported style under which the staff will need to raise about $150,000 annually to operate. A change to college policy allows the radio station to hold on-air fundraising drives to solicit donations, KSJE General Manager Scott Michlin said.

“We're hoping that the community will support what we do and support us financially,” Michlin said.

The college will provide about $71,000 in funding to help cover the radio station’s budget of about $221,000.

DesPlas stressed discussions to increase class size and eliminate programs, and eliminating the credit students receive to use on-campus computer printers have been put on hold for the moment. The college wants to have more discussion on those topics before any changes are made, DesPlas said.

“We didn’t want to spring something on people at the end of March to implement on July 1,” DesPlas said. “It’s not fair. We did not want to impact people so abruptly.”

The estimated $2.1 million in cuts in expenses for the upcoming school year's budget cover a number of areas, including reductions in travel, cell phone stipends and funds to replace instructional materials and pay for building repairs.

Some of the savings comes from a new IT management services contract with CampusWorks, which saved the college about $566,000, and about $285,000 in salary savings from employees retiring.

The mid-year budget reduction of $1.38 million for the current school year approved by the board also accounts for a loss of state funding, a decline in enrollment, and decline in revenue from the oil and gas production tax.

DesPlas said the adjustment was required to ensure operations of the college after the loss in revenue.

"Everything we are doing for (the current budget) is to ensure continuity and operations as planned," DesPlas said.

Included in the mid-year adjustment is a deferment of a $501,000 payment into the college’s cash balance, the transfer of about $251,000 from a facility repair fund to the physical plant for capital projects and delaying about $250,000 in technology purchases.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.

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