03/27/13 — College to face spending freeze

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College to face spending freeze

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on March 27, 2013 1:46 PM

Despite the possibility of further budget cuts, Wayne Community College President Dr. Kay Albertson remains resolute about the coming year, she told trustees Tuesday night.

That is due, in part, she said, to the population served by the institution.

The economy in recent years has actually bolstered enrollment, as many have returned to school for additional training.

Campus groups like the Student Government Association and the Criminal Justice Club, which gave a presentation at the board meeting on its community service efforts throughout the year, are examples of supplemental outlets provided for students at the college.

"Engagement is one of the ways that we keep students," Dr. Albertson said. "Our students, I would say, are engaged for the most part.

"When you consider that the majority of our students are 28, 30 years of age, have jobs, other obligations, to see this kind of involvement is really good."

With one more registration period remaining this semester, the president said she did not have final enrollment figures, but spring numbers are at 3,815. In the curriculum program alone, there are 1,529 full-time equivalent students, she added.

"It's important to continue that steady-as-you-go enrollment," she said.

The down side is the news being handed down at the state level.

Sam Hunter, board member and finance committee chairman, said the college had received notification March 12 that the Office of State Budget and Management is implementing tighter spending restrictions for the remainder of the year.

"The current restrictions limit our spending to goods and services that are essential for classroom instruction and key technology," he said. "I also have been advised by Joy (Kornegay, chief financial officer) and Kay that all of our spending is strictly essential for classroom instruction."

Travel restrictions, he noted, are also in place to limit spending to that of required, job-related travel.

"We talked about this in the finance committee," Hunter said. "It's my understanding that we're in good shape and we'll be able to handle this without any great difficulty."

One thing that has helped offset the funding decline, he said, was money made available to students in need through Pell grants.

"Pell grant awards to students for this fiscal year total $7.1 million," he said. "That's actually more than we have granted in the last two years. We reported $6.4 million in February 2012 and $6.9 million in February 2011.

"We have more students than the year before. Actually, in 2012, we had more students and gave out less money."

Mrs. Albertson said there are still a few more levels to go through in the budget process, but predicted the college is positioned well.

"We're projecting now, and we're getting all kinds of numbers, that 2013-14 we're going to be just fine," she said. "We know we're going to get more cuts but if we stay on this steady track, even if we had this governor's budget, we would be fine for next year.

"That's a healthy statement to be able to make. (We) just keep our fingers crossed every day."