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August 02, 2011 9:38 am

NWC budget adds positions, strengthens programs

Written by Ilene Olson

College enrollment expected to decrease slightly

The Northwest College Board of Trustees approved the college’s $33.55 million budget for the 2011-12 school year after a budget hearing July 20.

The $33.15 million total revenue budgeted for the coming school year is up from $30.34 million for the school year that just ended, according to the budget prepared by Sheldon Flom, NWC finance director.

Adding carryover, transfers and other revenue increases the total to $33.55 million, compared to $30.75 million a year ago.

Of that:

• $14.2 million, or 42.3 percent, comes from state appropriations. Of that, $400,000 comes from additional funding for community colleges recommended by former Gov. Dave Freudenthal and approved by the 2011 Wyoming Legislature.

• $3.6 million, or 11 percent, comes from local appropriations.

• $922,748, or 2.8 percent, comes from a 1-mill tax.

• $4.69 million, or 14 percent, comes from tuition and fees.

• $4.5 million, or 13.4 percent, comes from restricted sources.

• $5.2 million, or 15.5 percent, comes from the auxiliary fund (money from housing, meals, etc.)

• $351,631, or 1 percent, comes from other income sources.

Flom said the college receives additional grant money each August, September and October, and that money is budgeted at that time. Last year, those additions boosted the college’s total revenue by $3.13 million to a total of $33.48 million.

Robert Becker, representing the NWC Faculty Organization, said he is concerned that federal money wouldn’t be appropriated, and those students receiving federal aid would have difficulty.

“My plea was that we would work with those students and allow them to attend even though their financial aid wasn’t in hand right away,” Becker said in an email Monday. “Hopefully the new ‘budget deal’ means that federal aid will be coming on schedule.”

Flom said the extra money received this year will pay to replace a math faculty position that was cut several years ago, upgrade the rodeo coach position from part time to full time, add a groundskeeper to help with upkeep of the college’s soccer field, and hire a programmer to help support the college’s website and computer center.

“We’re also putting some money in to increase some scholarships for different programs, such as the new criminal justice program, and adding some software for recruiting purposes,” he said.

Flom said decisions on how to use the new funding were made through the college’s resource allocation process.

“The vice presidents went out to their people and said, ‘What are the needs and wants of the college?’ ... Based on that, they came up with a list for each department. Each department broke it down to six to 10 priorities, then we got the vice presidents and representatives from each constituency group on campus and looked at everything and prioritized.”

NWC President Paul Prestwich said representatives of all constituent groups on campus — faculty, administration, professional, classified and students — served on a budget committee and contributed to the budgeting process.

“We met several times, and we did get consensus,” he said. “It was a very productive process... Generally speaking, we were on the same page.

“We added some positions and were ale to add some aspects to our educational programs that will positively affect those programs.”

For instance, the college will purchase a firearms simulator for the criminal justice program. Besides benefiting that program, the simulator will provide training opportunities for local law enforcement agencies, he said.

While the college is in a strong financial situation, current figures show enrollment probably will be down this fall from last year’s figures, and that would affect the bottom line, Prestwich said.

The budget is based on flat enrollment, but preliminary estimates predict enrollment will decrease by 5 percent this fall, but the actual decrease probably will be smaller, perhaps 2 or 3 percent, he said.

“Quite a few students are on waiting lists for classes and eventually they will end up enrolled,” he said. In the past, people on waiting lists were included in enrollment estimates; now, they won’t be included until they actually are enrolled.

“We think we’ll catch up, at least somewhat,” he said.

Prestwich said the enrollment downturn wasn’t unexpected.

“I think some of the growth that we’ve had over the last couple of years has been due to the slowing economy, and also other initiatives that led to greater growth. At a certain point, that starts to flatten out, and a lot of this is variable from year to year.”

Prestwich noted that last year’s numbers included teachers from South Korea who attended Northwest College through an agreement with Eleutian Technologies Inc., but “this year, we don’t have that program.”

However, this year’s soccer teams will be a little bit bigger, and those and other gains will help offset the loss of the Eleutian program.

It remains to be seen whether Eleutian will be able to recruit more teachers from Korea for the spring semester, Prestwich said.

Flom said the college has the same budgeting difficulties as most households these days in regard to rising utility and fuel prices.

“Gas prices are up, and it affects traveling and other things. But you won’t hear any complaints from me.

“Looking at the budget overall, we’re going to be fine. When you look at higher education through the nation, we’re sitting in real good shape.”

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