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* All-campus meeting looks at budget, future

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Vice President for Academic Affairs John Backes speaks at the all-campus meeting, Friday, May 22, 2009.

 

Budget cut $2.7 million

Shoreline Community College will have 10.7 percent less money in its budget for the coming two year state budget cycle.

 

“That means $2.716 million for Shoreline Community College,” Vice President for Administrative Services Daryl Campbell said the May 22, 2009 all-campus meeting. To get to that number, Campbell said $2.1 million will come in salary and benefits and $417,000 in various operations-related items.

 

After adding back $48,000 to the operations line, the school is left facing a $419,000 gap. That gap, Campbell said, is where the added revenue from a state-approved 7 percent hike in tuition comes in.

 

“We expect that 7 percent will mean about $650,000, based on our current enrollment numbers,” he said. “That means it looks like we’re well-positioned to offset (the budget deficit).”

 

Whatever cushion might remain should be carefully guarded, Campbell said, referring to the uncertainty about the health of the state budget. Gov. Chris Gregoire, in signing the state budget earlier in the week, alluded to her concerns that the bottom of the current crisis may be still to come. “Until (the economy does stabilize, I’d say we’re not in the position of rehiring,” he said.

Yes, the implications of state-forced budget cuts were reviewed at the May 22, 2009 Shoreline Community College all-campus meeting, but attendees also got an impassioned vision of the future for not only SCC, but all community colleges.

 

 “We can take the path of hoping the situation will get better and things will go back to the way they were,” SCC President Lee Lambert said. “Or we can take the path of planning for the changes that are coming. I’m hoping that everyone here would want the latter.”

 

The session started with a presentation by Vice President for Administrative Services Daryl Campbell drawing an analogy between the business models of the troubled newspaper industry and higher education. Campbell outlined how funding for colleges has been shifting away from taxpayer support and moving toward student-paid tuition.

 

Nationwide in 2002, community college students’ tuition paid 27 percent of their education, Campbell said. By 2006, that number was at 33 percent. “And if we looked today, it would be dramatically higher,” he said.

 

Campbell noted a fundamental change, the rise in need for pre-college classes for students now coming to community colleges. “We now see that 45 percent of students need remedial math,” Campbell said. Community colleges have responded, but many of those students pay less than full tuition and receive some kind of state support at a time when the state has less money for that support.

 

To make up the difference, those students who can pay are being asked to pay more. As the funding burden shifts, Campbell said, the ability of colleges to perform the role that is expected by society is diminished as more resources swing toward preparing students to be able enter needed jobs programs.

 

The result is that community colleges are facing competition. “The demand can’t be met by the traditional model,” Campbell said. “Who is meeting the demand? Private for-profits.”

 

Campbell presented statistics showing that in the past several years, across the U.S., community colleges showed 2.1 percent of overall growth and actually declined in market share. Private for-profit schools experienced 16.4 percent growth over the same period and accounted for 31 percent of all higher education growth in the U.S.

 

Lambert noted that the University of Phoenix, a national chain of private for-profit schools, recently applied for and was given the ability to grant two-year associate degrees in Washington.

 

Lambert said that the current state budget problems are masking this underlying shift in higher education. “The state’s problems will pass, but this issue we’re seeing here will not pass,” he said. “I believe we can respond, but we’re going to have to do business differently.

 

“The question is, can we do it in a more strategic, more flexible and, in some cases, a more accelerated fashion.”

 

Lambert noted that Shoreline has already made strides and is well-positioned for this future:

 

“We’re the No. 3 online provider in the state,” he said. “That’s because our faculty have embraced the technology. We have nationally recognized programs. We’re stepping up, too. Moving from 95 to 90 credits is huge, the one-stop concept in Student Success and eAdvising.

 

“We recognize the importance of partnerships. In the CEO/LCN program we work with King County and the Workforce Development Council.”

 

Lambert also noted that the Board of Trustees this year has been moving toward a policy governance model. “The trustees will look at the big picture and then demand greater accountability from the college for showing that we’re doing what we say we’ll do,” he said. “And by the way, the new accreditation process is moving in the same direction.”

 

Lambert assured those in the audience that these recent efforts are paying off. “We’ve rebuilt our image at the state board,” he said. “We’re viewed as a college that can get results.”

SCC/Jim Hills

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