WSCC might not need to use budgetary safety valve

Washington State Community College may finish the current fiscal year without dipping into the $300,000 in reserve funding trustees approved to help balance the budget.

At the board’s regular meeting Monday afternoon in the college community room, college President Bradley Ebersole said the school is on pace to take in about $13 million by the end of the fiscal year on June 30 and spend about the same amount.

“It appears that we are going to be very much even and come in where we expected to, and we are very likely not going to have to use the reserves,” he said.

In September, the board approved a number of measures – including mandatory furloughs and the reduction of two administration jobs and one maintenance position – to head off a projected $1.47 million shortfall caused by a drop in enrollment attributed to the state-mandated shift from quarters to semesters, changes in federal aid guidelines and an improving economy. But on Monday, Ebersole said conservative spending by the college and the decision to leave some positions vacant means the college might not have to use $300,000 from the reserves that was included in that plan.

“I think we feel very good about the way we managed this budget this year,” Ebersole said.

In other business

  • The board approved 5-0, with four members absent, a new dual enrollment funding model with local schools. Instead of receiving money from the state and reimbursing districts a portion of the cost, the college will bill the districts themselves at a cost of $34 per credit hour per student, a 75 percent discount from its normal tuition rate. There will also be a $3 technology fee and a $30-per-term registration fee. Districts will also purchase textbooks.

Dual enrollment courses are taught at the home school. If a teacher there meets the necessary qualifications, there will be no additional charge for the district. If a college instructor team-teaches with a high school employee, there will be a $1,000 fee per course. If a college instructor goes to the school and teaches, that fee will be $2,000.

Colleges are back to negotiating their own dual enrollment agreements after a provision in Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s budget proposal revamping and reducing the reimbursement amounts for dual enrollment and post-secondary enrollment option (PSEO), in which high school students take classes on the college campus, was removed. The PSEO formula went back to its current setup, meaning the college won’t lose as much money as initially expected, Ebersole said.

However, the way PSEO and dual enrollment funding is distributed is still a topic of discussion among legislators, said Amanda Herb, chief enrollment management and student success officer.

“Most likely the conversation is not over,” she said.

Herb reported the college met its budget goal for summer enrollment and is now turning its attention to the fall semester.

Those at the college originally hoped to match the previous summer’s numbers in terms of student head count and credit hours. However, that term was still under the quarter system, and the amounts for the first summer term of the semester era, which began Monday, came in lower. Still, the revenue slightly exceeded budget goals, Herb said.

The college is working to match the fall 2012 semester’s totals of 1,864 students taking 19,100 credit hours, Herb said. The budget, however, was formulated with a conservative estimate of a 5 percent credit hour decrease.