Parkland planning $1.5 million in cuts

Parkland planning $1.5 million in cuts

Reductions spread around campus; layoffs not on list

CHAMPAIGN — An "unusual convergence" of factors — including fewer students, declining state funding and stagnating property-tax revenue — has led Parkland College officials not only to increase tuition but also to approve $1.5 million in cuts in the coming year.

The cuts to next year's budget will likely entail everything from fewer flowers being planted around the campus to fewer employees working in offices.

There will not be layoffs; positions will be reduced by attrition, Parkland College President Tom Ramage told The News-Gazette on Wednesday night.

He said about 10 positions will be affected, and they will be among faculty, support staff and administration.

In addition to the 10 positions, the cuts could entail reducing overtime hours, student workers, commodities, programs and services and more.

"The goal was to spread out the $1.5 million, so nobody was overly hit," Ramage said.

The budget reduction is for the fiscal year that begins July 1 and was prompted by what Parkland's Chief Financial Office Chris Randles described as an "unusual convergence" of factors. Those include the decline in enrollment (and therefore tuition income); decline in state funding (which has declined every year since 2005; last year the college received about $450,000 less than the previous year); and property tax revenue that has been flat in recent years.

The college has had to reduce its budget before in recent years, by a few thousand or half a million dollars, but this will be the first time in about 20 years it will be reduced by a number this size — $1.5 million — according to college officials.

The community college's annual budget is about $55 million. Funding comes from the state, local property taxes and tuition. Traditionally, each one of those sectors contributes one-third of Parkland's budget. However, the state portion has been closer to 11 percent, and tuition and fees now contribute to about 50 percent of the budget, according to Randles.

Also contributing to the deficit is a decline in tuition income. Enrollment in community colleges like Parkland climbed during the recession, but enrollments have backed off their highs and the recent "downtrend" is continuing, according to Reo Wilhour, Parkland's director of admissions and enrollment management.

Recent numbers show a dip in enrollment at Parkland in terms of the headcount (which includes part-time and full-time students) and full-time equivalent of students (which looks at the total credit hours enrolled, divided by 15). Parkland's headcount for fall 2013 was at 9,346, down by about 2.75 percent from fall 2012; the full-time equivalent was 5,659, down by about 6.34 percent from the previous fall, Wilhour said.

Spring enrollments also show declines in headcount (by 8.4 percent) and full-time-equivalents (by 8.7 percent) from the previous spring, reflecting similar declines seen statewide at other community colleges.

On Wednesday the board also approved a 6.4 percent tuition increase and a new $7-per-credit-hour technology fee, which will take effect this summer. The board approved the proposal by a vote of 5-2, with trustees Donna Giertz and Lin Warfel opposing the increase.

"I clearly am not a fan of raising prices," Ramage said, "but then again I am less willing to reduce the quality of services we offer."

Tuition will be $116 per credit hour, up from the current rate of $109. Add in fees, including the new technology fee, and the total amount is $131.50 per credit hour.

A full-time Parkland student who takes 15 credit hours a semester would pay approximately $1,972.50 in tuition and fees.

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