Col­lege seeks fund­ing in­crease from coun­ties

Dorchester Star - - Regional - By MIKE DAVIS mdavis@kibay­times.com Fol­low Mike Davis on Twit­ter: @mike_k­ibay­times.

CEN­TRE­VILLE — Ch­e­sa­peake Col­lege is seek­ing $1,744,183 from Queen Anne’s County in its fis­cal year 2017 bud­get, an in­crease of a lit­tle more than $150,000.

The col­lege is seek­ing a 4 per­cent in­crease in fis­cal year 2017 from its five com­mu­nity part­ners, Queen Anne’s, Caro­line, Dorch­ester, Kent and Tal­bot coun­ties, said Pres­i­dent Bar­bara Viniar dur­ing the Tues­day, March 22, county com­mis­sion meet­ing. The in­crease would add $241,308 to the school’s op­er­at­ing fund.

The to­tal op­er­at­ing bud­get con­tri­bu­tion from the coun­ties is $6.274 mil­lion, with an ad­di­tional con­tri­bu­tion to the col­lege’s Main­te­nance and Re­pair Fund of $397,800.

The col­lege’s to­tal op­er­at­ing bud­get is $20.7 mil­lion, down from fis­cal year 2016 by more than $1.5 mil­lion.

The op­er­at­ing fund sup­port from the five coun­ties is cal­cu­lated based on the per­cent­age of full-time equiv­a­lent (FTE) em­ploy­ees and stu­dents from the county. Queen Anne’s County’s FTE fig­ure is 27.8 per­cent, based on an au­dit com­pleted on the fis­cal 2015 bud­get.

Due to de­clines in the school’s en­roll­ment and no ma­jor in­creases in pub­lic fund­ing, the school had to lay off five full-time em­ploy­ees as well as re­duce the hours for other em­ploy­ees and down­grade some po­si­tions, Viniar said. The school, she said, is also not fill­ing va­can­cies in some po­si­tions to avoid fu­ture lay­offs. For the stu­dents, tu­ition has in­creased. Last year in­creases of $9 per credit were seen, though that was low­ered this year.

Viniar said though the school ex­pe­ri­enced an en­roll­ment de­cline last spring, it wasn’t as bad as the col­lege was ex­pect­ing. She said the school ex­pects another de­cline next year as the high school pop­u­la­tion in the five-county area has been down.

The de­crease in fund­ing for the school has also had an af­fect on re­cruit­ing and re­tain­ing em­ploy­ees, Viniar said. A com­pen­sa­tion study com­pleted three years iden­ti­fied a lack of com­pet­i­tive­ness in salary, she said.

“There was a time when we could at­tract peo­ple to the col­lege be­cause we were pay­ing more than Queen Anne’s County, for ex­am­ple. That’s not true any­more,” Viniar said. “Peo­ple are leav­ing Ch­e­sa­peake to go else­where ... Peo­ple are not sure if they have con­tin­u­ing em­ploy­ment. They’re not mak­ing enough to ful­fill their own plans and goals, and so they’re sim­ply leav­ing.”

The col­lege bud­get in­cludes a 2.5 per­cent across­the-board salary in­crease, which goes into ef­fect on July 1. There were also salary in­creases in 2009, 2014 and 2015.

Some costs would be dif­fi­cult for the col­lege to avoid. Viniar said the test­ing cen­ter in the Learn­ing Re­source Cen­ter in the li­brary on cam­pus was com­pletely ren­o­vated within the past three years be­cause the Gen­eral Ed­u­ca­tion De­gree Exam is now owned by a new group and has “very strict rules about where you can ad­min­is­ter a test.”

“It’s im­por­tant to us to have a place where stu­dents can come take the GED Exam, and we have stu­dents who come who are en­rolled in other col­leges, like UMUC or places like that, to take ex­ams,” Viniar said. “Now we do charge a mod­est fee to those stu­dents. We think it’s part of our mis­sion. We know that it’s used by peo­ple in the com­mu­nity, but it’s a cost that we have to ab­sorb.”

As well as per­son­nel hard­ships at Ch­e­sa­peake, Viniar said tech­nol­ogy is be­com­ing an is­sue at the com­mu­nity col­lege due to ex­pen­sive ser­vice con­tracts.

“These are not things we can do with­out,” she said.

For many tech­nol­o­gy­based ser­vices, such as the new Stu­dent Plan­ning Mod­ule that al­lows stu­dents to reg­is­ter for courses and be ad­vised on­line, the big ex­pense is not the ini­tial pur­chase but the on­go­ing sup­port needed for it to func­tion.

Viniar said the tech­nol­ogy in the sci­ence build­ing, which was com­pleted in 2008, is mostly at the end of its use­ful life. The school has only re­cently be­gun putting money back into its tech­nol­ogy bud­get af­ter cut­ting about $250,000 since fis­cal year 2009, Viniar said.

Com­mis­sioner Stephen Wil­son said he has “no trou­ble go­ing for 4 per­cent” as the col­lege has “pro­vided an ef­fi­ciency for some­thing that this county needs,” which is vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion.

Com­mis­sioner Jack Wil­son said he wants to see a part­ner­ship with the county schools and the CTE and skilled trades.

“I hope you can have con­fi­dence that we do not come in with a wish list. This bud­get is what we need … There’s noth­ing in our re­quest that’s a frill. There’s noth­ing that’s a trade-off. We need what’s in here, and we cer­tainly want to be able to say to our staff, ‘You can have long-de­served raises, you can have the equity in­crease so you will be at mar­ket value.’ We want to im­prove morale on cam­pus, but it’s more than peo­ple’s feel­ings. It’s about keep­ing good peo­ple here rather than los­ing them to other places,” Viniar said.

PHOTO BY MIKE DAVIS

Ch­e­sa­peake Col­lege Pres­i­dent Bar­bara Viniar, right, presents the Ch­e­sa­peake Col­lege Fis­cal Year 2017 bud­get re­quest dur­ing the Queen Anne’s County Com­mis­sion meet­ing on Tues­day, March 22.

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