Drop in enrollment hurts Parkland budget

Drop in enrollment hurts Parkland budget

CHAMPAIGN — An enrollment decline is being blamed for Parkland College ending the most recent fiscal year with an estimated $2.7 million deficit.

Revenue from tuition was down about $3 million for the fiscal year ending June 30 because fewer students attended the community college in the fall, spring and summer semesters. Spring enrollment was down by 4.8 percent in headcount (9,256) and 6.8 percent in full-time equivalents (5,348) from the previous spring, according to the college. Summer enrollment is also down 2.6 and 2.9 percent in headcount and full-time equivalents, respectively, from last summer. Fall enrollment also saw declines.

Facing what Parkland Chief Financial Officer Chris Randles called an "unfortunate convergence of bad factors," including declines in enrollment and state funding, plus flat property-tax revenues, the college in February approved a 7.6 percent tuition increase and administration began making cuts for the current fiscal year's budget.

Those cuts, which amounted to about $1.5 million, have been made in recent months and have entailed reducing overtime hours, part-time faculty hours and student work hours. Cuts were also made in commodities (like paper), travel and other areas. Because of those cuts, the tentative budget for the current fiscal year will be a balanced one, Randles said.

Trustees reviewed that budget, proposed at $57.7 million, Wednesday. It will be up for formal approval from the trustees in September.

The college is wrapping up several major construction projects, including the student union and Fine Arts addition and has been upgrading athletic facilities such as the soccer fields. Those projects were funded partly by the state ($24 million) and by issuing bonds ($67 million), with some of those bonds ($10 million) to be paid with student fees.

A few years ago, Parkland renegotiated its utility contracts, and Randles projects that although the college is adding square footage to the campus, utility costs are not expected to spike. As for cleaning and maintaining the new buildings, he acknowledged that will be a challenge since Parkland has not added to its janitorial staff since expanding its campus.

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wayward wrote on July 17, 2014 at 6:07 am

From what I've heard, Parkland may be contributing to its own enrollment problems. It sounds like they force many students to take remedial courses for no credit, which increases the costs and time involved in getting a degree. It might be worth taking a good look at student experiences and satisfaction.

whatithink wrote on July 17, 2014 at 10:07 am

As a part time teacher at parkland, it's NOT students being "forced" to take remedial courses where the credit doesn't count towards a degree.  The students coming into college are unprepared and doing poor on the assessment tests.  Basically, they are terrible at  reading, writing, and math.  The education system is failing miserably and many of the students just don't put in any effort at all. If I was to offer the student's a guarenteed "D" or the lowest grade to pass the class, they would never even show up.



wayward wrote on July 17, 2014 at 2:07 pm

I heard about a student with a 24 on her ACT who was apparently still required to take Parkland's remedial English course.  At any rate, it might be worth trying to understand why students choose not to enroll there.  Do they prefer 4-year schools?  Are online programs seen as more convenient?