KPC prepares for big cuts

  • By Kelly Sullivan
  • Thursday, November 19, 2015 10:16pm
  • News

Administrators are preparing for a 10 percent cut in Kenai Peninsula College’s budget for next year.

KPC Director Gary Turner is working on the contingency plan in case the University of Alaska system does not receive the full amount of funding the Board of Regents and President Jim Johnsen requested from the state. He said at this point, however, nothing is certain.

“It would be premature for me to discuss potential budget cuts because they involve people and programs,” Turner said. “It is too early to talk through what-ifs because we won’t know what we need to do until May or perhaps later when we receive a final budget from the governor.”

In early November, the regents and Johnsen approved a $960 million FY17 budget, which includes a request from the state to increase funding for the university by 7.6 percent.

The president said in reality, in order to roll all existing services forward, the system will be scrambling to find $58 million if the state doesn’t fully fund the university system’s request.

“We will be able to make our case,” Johnsen said in a previous Clarion interview. “We are critical to our state’s future.”

Johnsen said the budget includes what he believes is necessary to provide the proper education to the system’s nearly 12,000 students.

The state Office of Management and Budget said the University of Alaska system could expect a 4.5 percent funding reduction, or $15.8 million, from the current fiscal year, according to the Board of Regents FY17 approved operating budget.

For KPC, that comes out to a $350,000 loss, Turner said.

A 9 percent decline in credit hours being taken by students the college has seen this semester is compounding the reductions, he said.

If enrollment stays low in the spring semester, which could mean another $339,000 loss in revenue, the total reduction for KPC in available funding next year would be $689,000 or 9 percent, Turner said.

KPC’s FY16 authorized operating budget is nearly $17 million, with nearly $7.65 million coming from the state, Turner said.

To address the forthcoming cuts, Turner formed the KPC Executive Committee in February, which he said includes six senior staff including himself.

The role of the committee is to review programs and positions, he said.

All committee meetings are held in executive session since the discussions concern personnel, Turner said.

There are various approaches the college may take in staffing reductions, he said.

“Reduced days worked during a pay period, reduction in hours worked each day, reduction in contract length, non-renewal of term contracts, not filling vacated positions, and layoffs,” are among them, Turner said.

The committee met with 11 KPC department supervisors, first as a group and later separately, to develop proposals that show the impacts programs or personnel reductions may have on their classrooms, Turner said.

“They understand the fiscal environment and that we have to plan for potential reductions,” Turner said. “Planning like this is never easy.”

The committee first met with supervisors again in September to talk about the FY17 budget, but also to begin planning for another 10 percent reduction in FY18, which starts July 1, 2017, Turner said.

He said the committee agreed to look forward because projections he has received from government officials and research organizations predict fiscal strains for the next two to four years, Turner said.

The regents, President Johnsen and other UA administration are also working on a contingency plan for the overall system if the state doesn’t fully fund the requested amount, according to the FY17 approved budget.

Developmental education, e-Learning, general education requirements and teacher education have been identified by the regents as “high priority areas,” but will also be considered during the process.

Reach Kelly Sullivan at kelly.sullivan@peninsulaclarion.com.

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