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State funds to RCC cut by 13%

At a meeting of the Rappahannock Community College President’s Planning Advisory Council on September 30, RCC president Dr. Elizabeth Crowther explained to the assembled faculty and staff the budget implications of the latest reductions in state funding for community colleges.

Already asked to absorb a 15% cut over the past two years, the Virginia Community College System will now have to give up 13% more, for a total of almost 30%. Federal stimulus money will soften the blow somewhat, but as Dr. Crowther said, “The stimulus goes away in 2011, but the reduction stays.”

During the same period, RCC’s enrollment has increased by 25%, giving the college additional tuition money, but not enough to offset the loss of base funding from the state. Also, more students have created more work for both faculty and staff, putting a strain on the college’s capacity to maintain its high standards.

“The full effect of the cumulative cuts will hit us in 2012,” Crowther continued. “We have to be careful about recurring costs”—such as salaries.

A few more staff positions may be lost, she mentioned, and contributions to full-time employees’ state retirement funds will be deducted from their paychecks during the fourth quarter of the year instead of being subsidized by the state. The college will also participate in a statewide mandatory unpaid furlough day, to occur probably on the Friday before Memorial Day, 2010.

Dr. Crowther then detailed the college’s proposed financial strategy. Extensive staff cuts are not the answer, as they would compromise service and efficiency. Rather than simply reducing costs uniformly, RCC will “re-engineer” spending for better efficiency, concentrating funds on student services and the curricula that are being used the most. However, Crowther emphasized, “We will remain a comprehensive school” with a wide variety of programs for area students to choose from.

posted 11.03.2009

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