05/25/11 — WCC trustees discuss impact of state budget

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WCC trustees discuss impact of state budget

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on May 25, 2011 1:52 PM

Wayne Community College officials discussed the state budget and its possible impact on the school Tuesday night at a meeting of the school's Board of Trustees.

Word came out earlier in the day that the state Senate budget was being released, prompting questions from the board for a status report.

"Our cut, rather than be 12 percent, is 10.9 percent. That's up from the House budget, which was 10.1 percent," said college President Dr. Kay Albertson. "As the budget goes to conference, we feel we have a little bit more opportunity to whittle it back."

She said the initial indications were that the cuts would come out of "management flexibility," giving individual community colleges the option to decide where to cut.

But it also likely means personnel.

The latest prognosis translates to $8 million in cuts across the 58 community college system.

It's too early to predict exactly how that may play out, Mrs. Albertson said.

"If the budget goes to conference, we will have a little more time and also do a little more talking," she said. "We're in a little bit better position than we were last week at our executive committee meeting."

Board Chairman Gwyn Wilson expressed optimism over the turn of events from the state, where public schools had likewise seen a reduction in anticipated cuts.

"Things are moving in the right direction," she said. "They have given (public) schools back their money, maybe they'll give us back our money."

The president said things appeared to be looking up on the local front as well.

"The county budget, we do know that we are receiving exactly the same amount of money that we received last year, a little over $3.4 million," she said. "And we're very happy that it's a flat budget and we will make things work with that budget as we always have."

Meanwhile, officials at the college, like everyone else, are anticipating the final outcome of the budget debate.

"We're just holding tight and waiting," Mrs. Albertson said. "We're looking at a little bit or reorganization here on campus (and) hope by the time June 30 rolls around, we're going to see our spending at the appropriate levels."

The college has already seen some restrictions on how money is spent, in such areas as travel and hiring personnel.

"That's not different than the past year," she said. "We just have to live with that budget status."

In other business, the board recognized two people who have made significant contributions to the school over the years.

Larry Boyce, who took over the reins as chairman of the annual WCC Foundation golf tournament nearly five years ago.

The event was introduced 18 years ago to raise scholarship money for students. It has generated more than $791,000 worth of student aid.

Boyce was being honored by the board, Mrs. Albertson said, for "taking the golf tournament to a level that no one ever dreamed would happen."

At one point, the tournament generated around $50,000 a year. With the arrival of Boyce at the helm, it has gradually risen to become the largest such fundraiser in the state's community college system, said Jack Kannan, executive director of the Foundation. The next event will be June 7 and 8.

"Our goal is $85,000," Kannan said. "It was $80,000 last year, about $30,000 more than the next closest golf tournament in the system as far as I can find out."

In the current economic climate, the figures are particularly impressive, the officials said.

Mrs. Albertson presented Boyce with a photo of the college and a small replica of the WCC clock.

A former president at the college will also be memorialized in the near future.

"Dr. Clyde Erwin died a few months ago. He holds the record for being president at WCC longer than any other (1966-1986)," said board member Tommy Jarrett.

The executive committee has since held discussions on ways to pay tribute to Erwin.

When considering Erwin's strengths, two things stood out -- his ability to hire very qualified people and his belief in enhancing the library. Upon contacting the family, it was learned that they had already donated a portrait of Erwin to the college library.

"So it all came together, or we want it to come together, and name the library the Dr. Clyde A. Erwin Library," Jarrett said.

He suggested the board work toward acquiring the appropriate and in the near future, inviting Erwin's family to be part of the recognition ceremony.