I’m writing with a brief update regarding the college budget and Board of Education meetings, especially in light of the Eugene Weekly article published today regarding the Board’s regular meeting last week, which is the impetus for this email.
College Budget and Deficit
As you are likely aware, there is a projected budget deficit for next year. The projected deficit increased from approximately $6.8 million to approximately $8.5 million last week due to updated projections and estimates of the percentage allocation that Lane will receive from the state CCSF (Community College Support Fund). These figures represent the projected deficit from the college general fund budget (Funds I and IX) of approximately $90 million and from a total college budget (all funds) of approximately $209 million. There are a large number of factors that will ultimately impact the budget, including the allocation by the state legislature for the next biennium (beginning July 1 of this year).
On a positive note, the state Ways and Means Co-Chairs released a budget that would increase funding for community colleges from what was proposed in the governor’s base budget of $543 million to $590 million, also an increase over the $570 million allocation for this biennium. $590 million is not sufficient, but it is the figure already in use in the college budget projections. OEA and OCCA, for example, have jointly asked for $787 million ($646 million + $70 million for expanding CTE programs + $70 million for additional student support services).
The College Council Budget Development Subcommittee has continued to meet collaboratively every week in order to develop a balanced budget proposal on track with its goal of presenting a balanced proposal at the regular April 11 Board meeting.
Board of Education Decisions and Process Last Week
The usual timeline provides that the Board of Education makes decisions about tuition increases in November or December for the academic year that begins the subsequent summer. This year the Board did not make a decision and requested that the College Council Budget Development Subcommittee (BDS) develop a proposal. Committee members presented a unanimous tuition proposal at the February meeting, and the Administration requested that the Board make a decision at the March meeting.
The March meeting, last Thursday, lasted until 11 p.m. Board members considered possible tuition increases but made no decision. They voted to outsource campus food services and voted not to outsource the campus bookstore. The meeting process diverged significantly from regular practice in that the Board members voted to consider these three items without following their own regular agenda and without allowing college administrators to present their budget update. The Board members asked questions about the budget but, because of the Board decision to change the agenda, they did not receive a presentation about the 19-page budget update prepared by the administration for the meeting.
In addition, the Board has scheduled a special meeting set for Monday, April 1 at 4 p.m. in CML 104 in order to provide time for public comment, especially from students, on a tuition increase. It is unclear what else will be on the agenda, if the Board will make any decisions on that date on tuition or any other items, or if presentations by the administration or Budget Development Subcommittee will be included on the agenda.
It is important to note that at this time, there are no proposed program or service cuts impacting faculty under consideration. The administration has not proposed to cut any program or service that includes faculty members. However, administrators have explained to the Board of Ed that without budget decisions, including a decision on tuition, they will be forced to propose such cuts. It is unclear if the Board will request that the Administration make such proposals.
Due to contract timelines, the Administration has provided notice to the Association of the possibility of a reduction in force and has scheduled a meeting with Association representatives for early in Spring term in order to discuss alternatives, consistent with Article 10.2 of the contract. This notice is a general one and does not specify programs or positions that would be reduced if the Administration is forced to make such proposals.
Ensuing College Budget Process
As a result of the new special meeting called by the Board for April 1, the Budget Development Subcommittee with representatives from administration, staff, faculty, managers, and students held a seven-hour meeting yesterday to finalize a balanced budget proposal, which will go to College Council tomorrow with a goal of presenting a balanced proposal to the Board on April 1. The proposal includes some increased revenues, namely tuition, as well as expense reductions, and budget reductions that obviate involuntary separations. The meeting, albeit lengthy, was productive and collaborative.
A reminder — four positions on the Board of Education are up for election in May. At present LCCEA has endorsed a single candidate, Lisa Fragala. LCCEA Legislative Action Committee and Executive Council members voted unanimously in support of Lisa’s candidacy. Lisa is an experienced educator in Eugene, an active EEA member, and OEA Board member. She advocates tirelessly for funding for education and has been one of our most vocal Board members advocating for community college funding in Salem and with local legislators.
Save the Date
May 8 is the OEA statewide day of action to call on legislators to fully fund education, details TBA.
More information will be forthcoming in April about all of the above.
In the meantime, despite the uncertainties, I believe the college is moving on a positive trajectory. Much needed changes will transform the college and will certainly take time, but I have hope for what the future will bring.
I hope you can set all this aside and enjoy spring break.