Strategic initiatives designed to wean Shoreline Community College away from state dollars are all the more important given the budget news coming from Olympia.
Gov. Chris Gregoire, on Monday, Aug. 8, 2011, ordered agencies, including community colleges to prepare for budget-cutting scenarios of 5 percent and 10 percent for the coming year. Across the state, that would mean another $838 million to nearly $1.7 billion.
"Given economic conditions, as well as the uncertain impact on states of pending federal budget reductions, there is a distinct possibility we will face further revenue losses in the coming year," Gregoire's budget director, Marty Brown ,wrote in a memo to all state agencies.
According to information from the state Office of Financial Management, a 5 percent cut would mean about $53 million to the state’s community and technical college system with 10 percent doubling that to $106 million. When counting other state support beyond the general fund, state board officials have advised college officials to use 4.6 percent and 9.2 percent to estimate the potential cuts at individual campuses.
For Shoreline, that could mean cutting another $1 million-$2 million, perhaps by Jan. 1 and perhaps sooner if Gregoire calls a special legislative session this fall. The Governor said she’ll know more after the scheduled Sept. 20, 2011 revenue forecast.
“While not unexpected, this is disheartening news,” Shoreline President Lee Lambert said. “With cuts we have sustained over the past several years, Shoreline now receives less than half of its total budget from the state. Unfortunately, it appears that this is no longer just a temporary dip, but a new reality not only for Shoreline, but all of higher education.”
Shoreline, Lambert said, is working hard to move away from reliance on state funding and not just continue the state’s solution of shifting the burden to students by raising tuition.
“Our strategic initiatives are in place to help Shoreline continue to meet the needs of students,” Lambert said. “Education and training are keys to help get the economy moving again, but the old funding model is broken. We’re working to build a new model.”
Lambert said Shoreline is moving ahead in three areas: online classes, international students and industry partnerships.
“We’re expanding our capabilities in online education, building on our already terrific offerings,” he said. “Some of the first work will be to give a better online experience in the student services area such as being able to pay. That helps all students, too, not just online students.”
Shoreline also has an existing strong international program, with about 600 students from 34 countries. “We’re building on that, too,” Lambert said. “We’re creating what internally we’re calling the China team, which will focus on mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau.”
The international effort is first about education, for both international and domestic students, Lambert said.
“We live in an increasingly global society,” he said. “Global awareness, global competencies, are increasingly valuable. And, if we can bring the world together at Shoreline, we’re all better off.”
The idea to develop more industry partnerships also builds off another existing strength: the Professional Automotive Training Center.
“The automotive program shows how to meet student’s needs and industry’s needs,” Lambert said. “We’re working to apply that idea with other programs and other industries such as aerospace and biotechnology.”
However, to deal with the pending state budget concerns, Lambert said Shoreline would move quickly. Lambert and the Senior Executive Team will begin immediately looking at how the college could the cut levels called for by the Governor.
“We’ve done a good job at planning ahead for state cuts, to the degree possible,” Lambert said. “We’ll need to continue to do that while we also work toward replacing those lost state dollars.”