Tuition Up, Services Down

Original: April 12, 2011 Issue 14

By: Rocio Rossi

Staff Writer

 

In proposed budget, cuts to be made to student services

Montgomery College estimates its total operating budget for the fiscal year 2012 to be $267.3 million. However, just like it happened last year, it seems to be falling short of its goal.

MC has requested funding amounting to $98 million from the county. Nonetheless, county executive, Isiah Leggett, recommended that MC be given $7.4 million less than it is requesting.

Last week, there were five county council hearings scheduled in order to debate the requested funding to be granted to Montgomery County Public Schools, MC, and other areas. The first hearing, held on April 5, counted with the presence of more than 300 people. Over 66 percent of them were in support of funding not being reduced for MCPS or MC.

Several college officials spoke at the hearing, stressing the importance of receiving full requested funding. Michael Lin, president of the Board of Trustees, advocated for restoring of at least $4.3 million of the $7.4 which are proposed to be cut off.

Donna Diamon, chief budget and management studies officer, explained that there were no resolutions adopted at the end of the first meeting. In fact, it will not be until May that the county council approves the final budget for MC, which could be higher, lower, or the same as that proposed by Leggett.

Dr. DeRionne Pollard, president of MC, said that she hopes college officials and the county council will get the funding restored. However, this was not the case last year, when MC received $8 million less than what it had asked the county.

Marshal Moore, MC’s vice president of administrative and financial services, explained that for the last fiscal year, ending in June, the college counterbalanced the $8 million reduction by furloughing employees, cutting travel expenses, and delaying the opening of Rockville’s new Science Center, not to mention the well known tuition increases.

According to the budget overview, MC has proposed several financial cuts and relocation of funds in order to be able to reduce spending. Next fiscal year, there will be 14 employee positions eliminated and not a single salary increase. The college will also cut $4.7 million in information technology, facilities, professional development and human resources. It also plans to reduce student-serving areas such as tutoring, advising, and support in the writing center.

MC’s budget is not funded by the county alone. It is also paid for by state taxes and student tuition. Since tuition and student fees will represent 37 percent of the college’s incoming budget, the college’s board has chosen to increase tuition again.

It is uncertain in what other areas the college will have to reduce spending if the $7.4 million difference is not granted. Leggett proposes that the college draws $5.8 million from the college reserves, which are estimated to amount to $15.9 million.

MC has already proposed to use $6.1 million of its reserves for the current budget. If it were to follow Leggett’s advice, then it would have to use $11.9 million of its reserves, leaving them lower than the college administration would like. Moore said that the fund is mainly for unpredicted expenses, and that Leggett’s recommendation would only represent a short term solution.