LBCC Budget Committee Meeting Discusses Tuition Hike
LBCC students will see an 8% increase in tuition next school year, as the college looks to close a budget gap brought on by declining state funding and lower enrollment caused by the coronavirus.
These changes were discussed and approved in a pair of meetings last Wednesday, May 20. One with the LBCC Budget Committee, the other with our Board of Education.
LBCC President Greg Hamann started the meeting by showing the committee a revised budget framework, to address their budget concerns. The main focus was the amount the college expects to receive in state aid. Since the last meeting, a revenue forecast had been released, which turned out to be a mixed bag.
The assumption had been that aid would drop by about $3 million. The revenue forecast instead predicted a drop of $2.7 million. The general consensus among committee members was that this number is still bad for the college, but less so than they had originally been expecting. To reflect this, Hamann proposed lowering the 10% tuition hike discussed in the previous meeting down to 8%.
Meanwhile, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed a multi-trillion-dollar aid package that could provide support for a lot of groups, including community colleges. However, it is currently stalled in the Senate, and President Trump has vowed not to sign it, Hamann told the committee. As such, the college is not counting on this aid when making its budget projections.
So the college is considering a combination of budget cuts and tuition increases to balance its budget over the next biennium.
“We have not yet identified how we are going to reduce the budget by these amounts,” Hamann told the committee. “There are a variety of things we could do, [budget committee member] Chanz Keeney has on a number of occasions brought up issues of furloughs, that’s certainly a part of the ways in which we might choose to reduce the budget.”
Hamann also said it will take about two years for the effects of the reductions to become apparent, which has been taken into account with their prediction models.
“We’re certainly interested in making sure that our reductions don’t seriously impact your ability to serve our students,” Hamann said.
Committee members seemed in agreement on a model for the budget to take, and then administrators can follow up with discussions with the various student, staff and faculty groups on how best to implement them.
According to Tom Oliver, the committee chairman, spreading their budget plan out over an extended period of time means they won’t have to scramble to implement their decisions concerning it as soon as possible.
According to committee member Pat Malone, another quarterly state revenue forecast in August will likely give them cause to re-evaluate their budget plan.
According to Hamann, LBCC is doing its budget differently from other schools, universities, and colleges.
“Most of the educational entities in the state are building budgets that do not assume reduction in state funding,” he said. “We’ve made a decision to try and incorporate, as best we can, our understanding of what state support will look like.”
The majority of the meeting was taken up by a conversation spawned from a concern raised with committee member Chanze Keeney. The primary concern Keeney raised was that other colleges have been implementing furloughs to reduce costs, and he wanted to know why LBCC wasn’t doing the same. He was critical of LBCC’s current system, which involves delaying furloughs for the time being, and felt it will cause the college problems in the long run.
He also was critical of the seeming lack of communication between the committee and the Board of Education. Members of the board he’d spoken to before the meeting apparently knew nothing about the 10% tuition hike discussed previously, and none of them knew about other colleges implementing furloughs.
Once the debate was done, committee member Jim Merryman moved to approve the proposed budget for the 2020-21 school year, to the total amount of $130,217,366. The motion was seconded by Joan Reukauf, a committee member who was also sworn onto the board later that night. It was approved nearly unanimously, with Keeney being the only nay.
Oliver then moved to adjourn the committee’s meeting, reminding everyone that disagreement doesn’t translate to disrespect of people’s opinions. And he acknowledged that this has been a particularly difficult budget to discuss and finalize. He commended the staff for their work.
Then came the Board of Education meeting.
Angie Geno, the new president of the Student Leadership Council, was introduced at the start of the meeting. She opened by stating how glad she was for her and other members of the SLC to get to attend the meeting via zoom.
Also in attendance for the SLC was Nia Alvarado, the council’s current VP. Other members introduced include Jacob Cotterel, the chieftain of events, Marissa Miles, the campus outreach coordinator, Johnny Media, the legislative affairs director, Winston Montgomery the executive assistant, Christian Pool an event planner, and Morgan Sylvia the clubs and engagement director.
According to Hamann, the SLC will have a signing-in ceremony for their new leadership on May 28.
Hamann then asked the SLC members how working together is going without being able to meet in person. Geno responded saying that they’ve been holding weekly meetings via Zoom.
Then the meeting turned over to Cam Preus, the executive director of the Oregon Community College Association, who talked about the organization and how it relates to the college
According to Preus, a lot of the OCCA’s work since the pandemic started has been to help colleges adapt to these difficult times. Preus said that the organization provides a platform for colleges to engage in discussion, but doesn’t try to direct the conversation.
The OCCA has been involved in a lot of discussions about reopening, and how to make sure staff and students stay safe. Also still doing discussions with the Legislature, like engaging in discussions about the impact of the governor’s mandated 8% allotment reduction.
Next, Jennifer Boehmer, the college’s Director of Advancement, then shared information about the successful LBCC Cares Day, the first-ever event to raise money for the college’s student emergency fund. She thanked all the people on the board who donated.
“All of those funds will go to help students that are facing emergencies right now because of Covid-19,” she said.
The Roadrunner Student Emergency Fund was started about three weeks before the event, and had raised about $30,000. LBCC Cares Day raised an additional $22,000, about half of that from LBCC employees and the rest from community members.
Then Merryman turned the meeting back over to Angie Geno to talk some more about the SLC. Apparently the team has recently completed their first leadership retreat.
She also laid out their goals for the coming school year, such as encouraging students to get more involved with extracurriculars, and working to pass on the legacy of the SLC to the next leadership team.
The SLC has also been working on putting together a meeting to discuss the tuition hike on June 4-5, and a website to celebrate graduating students.
The Board Meeting ended by voting to approve various propositions, including approval for the Budget Committee’s proposed 8% tuition increase, which will take effect beginning Summer Term.
You can see the full version of both meetings in the video below: