Town Hall

JCCC President Terry Calaway held town hall meeting at JCCC, March 6. He discussed the PrimeBuzz incident as well as the budget. Calaway joked that another of the cost-cutting measures on the infamous list included eliminating cookies from meetings but that somehow didn’t make the PrimeBuzz post. It was a little awkward since the reporter who wrote the post, Jim Sullinger, was in attendance.

The audience consisted of mostly employees and a few students.

One person asked Calaway if there were criteria for electing board members in the coming election. Calways answered, “Yes.” After a pause, he went on to say each person should vote and make his or her own evaluation of the candidates.

Other items included:

  • When asked (by a student) how students could influence budget decisions, Calaway directed Pam Vassar, director of Student Life and Leadership Development, create a budget advisory group consisting of students and employees.
  • The college could benefit from the federal stimulus package with shovel-ready projects one of which includes replacing the roof on the performing arts center.
  • Federal financial aid applications for Fall 2009 have already exceeded 1,500 — a record for JCCC and classes don’t start for five months.

Calaway will deliver the State of the College address March 27 at 2 pm in the Polsky Theater.

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Added: Today’s message sent to the college’s electronic mail server, Infolist:

From: InfoList
Sent: Tuesday, March 10, 2009 10:27 AM
To: InfoList
Subject: [infolist] Town Hall Meeting Summary

TOWN HALL MEETING SUMMARY

Dr. Terry Calaway covered a number of subjects at the Town Hall meeting Friday, March 6.

Smoking policy

Following up on discussion from last December’s Town Hall meeting, Dr. Calaway gave an update on changes to the college’s smoking policy. Although the number of designated smoking areas will be reduced from 22 to 10, some of the areas will be covered and will bear permanent signage. They will also be further away from the building doors. A group is looking at cost-effective ways to enforce the smoking policy and deal with cigarette butt litter.

Budget

For the 2008-2009 fiscal year, the state has cut funding by 4.5 percent. To accommodate that reduction, we’ve frozen most empty non-instructional positions.

For next fiscal year (2009-2010), the college now has final numbers from the state. We weren’t sure until now how much reduction we would see from the state – whether it would be 10, 15 or 18 percent – and we couldn’t develop plans until we knew. We now know the state will reduce funding to the college by 10 percent. In addition, funding from county assessed valuation will drop about 4.0 percent. All told, we’ll need to cut the budget by about $5.7 million.

Therefore, we’ll continue the noninstructional hiring freeze, which will save about $1 to $1.5 million. We’ll also reduce the replacement cycle for technology from four to five years and limit the ITP process, which will save $1.2 million. We’ll also look at freezing vacant part-time positions.

On the income side, we’re recommending to the board a $4 per credit hour increase in tuition for in-state students and a $10 increase for out-of-state students, which should bring in $1.2 million. There will be conversations on this subject with the Student Senate after the board meeting in April, when the board will give the budget a final review.

Because we are in the midst of negotiations, it will be awhile before we know the amount of raises, if any, for next year. We do have numbers from the salary study conducted by the Hay Group. When negotiations are completed, we’ll do what we can to consider their recommendations, although it would take $3.1 million to do so. We also know there will be increases in health care costs that will need to be accommodated.

What we won’t do is tell every department to cut their budgets by a certain percentage. We need to make surgical, targeted cuts, instead of reductions across the board, to maintain quality. We still have cash reserves, as required by the state, and from a fiscal perspective we’re as well off as any entity in the county. Despite what has been reported in the newspapers, there is no conversation at this time about cutting retiree benefits. The state funding cuts were not as severe as feared, so those drastic measures are not needed at this time.

In response to a question about whether we would benefit from the economic stimulus package, Dr. Calaway pointed out that we would get funding from the state for architectural services for the Billington Library, for repairs to the roofs of five buildings on campus, and for architectural, engineering and construction costs for a warehouse addition to the bookstore. The funds are in the form of interest-free loans, which we will have eight years to pay off. Other “shovel-ready” projects have been listed, but we don’t yet know whether there will be funding for those. Other kinds of projects could be brought forward, depending on what funding the state gets for something other than construction or repairs.

In addition, enrollment may well be up in the summer and fall. Financial aid applications for fall have now reached 1,500, which is a significant increase over last year.  The counselors report more students are walking in, some with pink slips in their hands. We may pass 20,000 students in the fall. We’re also likely to see a jump in noncredit training and workforce development.  All this will help revenue, but we’ll be challenged in scheduling and finding rooms for everyone.

Dr. Calaway also noted these were difficult times for fund raising. The stock market has affected our endowment. We’ll continue to be aggressive and pursue outside funding. It hasn’t ceased, but it is much slower.

In response to a question, Dr. Calaway said a list of talking points regarding the programs we offer that could help downsized workers would be provided so employees would know what to tell others about what is available at JCCC.

We are also not considering increasing fees for the Hiersteiner Child Development Center or implementing a reduced workweek.

There was also extended discussion of the cash reserves. While the reserves are greater than in the past, they help the college maintain a AAA rating, which helps us issue the bonds we need to help keep our buildings and classrooms in good repair. We will be drawing on the reserves to help fund next year’s budget.

Dr. Calaway stressed that the worst thing we could do was hunker down and do nothing for the next few years. We need to maintain an innovative spirit and look for opportunities from other sources. We need to be strategic in our risk-taking; he cited as examples the new allied health education center in development with Olathe Medical Center and the new education research triangle.

In response to questions, Dr. Calaway asked that a committee be organized to look at ways students, faculty and staff can get accurate information about the budget and provide input for the budgeting process.

Sustainability

An earmark of more than $700,000 to support sustainability efforts, thanks to Sen. Brownback, is up for approval by Congress. The economy has caused some schools that signed the University and College President’s Climate Commitment to back out, but we will not.

Online classes

The Distance Learning Coordinating Council will be making a recommendation regarding the maximum number of students allowed in online classes. Maximum enrollment varies by program. There won’t be an across-the-board increase; changes will depend on the discipline.

Textbooks

A questioner stressed that tuition was reasonable, but that textbooks were too expensive. Dr. Calaway said we would look at options, such as book rental or support for textbook purchases.

Board elections

In response to a question about the upcoming board elections in April, Dr. Calaway encouraged people to vote. Media Production is recording candidate forums over spring break; those will be aired afterward. The broadcast schedule will be announced.

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