While legislators cast their votes to approve a state budget more than a week ago, all that means to state agencies such as Shoreline Community College is that the work of understanding and implementing the implications of that budget can finally get started.
Despite the vagaries of budget-related details, there are a few specifics that can be said based on legislative action, including:
Based on the currently anticipated state budget allocation, the Shoreline Community College administration has determined that purchase of faculty tenure (buyouts) will not be offered for the current 2011-12 fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2012.
No layoffs in the current fiscal year that ends June 30, 2012. “We were on the hot seat all year,” President Lambert said. “It’s nice to finally know we don’t have to take any further cuts right now.”
“While the general news from Olympia was better than expected and we are very grateful, it takes work by the State Board staff and then Shoreline staff to define and understand the details,” President Lambert said. “We’re fortunate to have (Vice President for Administrative Services) Daryl Campbell and (Budget Director) Holly Woodmansee to make sense of the numbers for us.”
At this point, State Board staff members have shared a draft of the proposed state allocation to all community and technical colleges. That draft gets reviewed before the State Board is scheduled to make a final decision at the May 9-10 meeting at Big Bend Community College in Moses Lake.
Like the difference between seeing a smiling face on the moon while viewing from the backyard and finding a dusty, barren surface when jumping off a lunar-lander ladder, the view of the budget changes depending on proximity to it. What’s more, both experiences can be true.
“The statement that there were no cuts to higher education, including the community and technical colleges, can be true when viewed holistically,” Campbell said. “However, a closer look at how discretionary and non-discretionary funds are administered shows we are getting less in the state allocation.”
For Shoreline, that could mean about $1.25 million less in state-allocated funds for the 2012-13 fiscal year that starts July 1, 2012, according to draft numbers.
“However, the Legislature also approved raising tuition for the coming year,” Campbell said. Because the number of students and which courses they take impact tuition revenue, it is impossible to say for sure what that could mean for Shoreline. Additional tuition revenue is hoped to cover at least some of the reduction in state allocation along with other non-state funds such as Running Start payments, grants and contracts and bookstore revenue, he added.
Lambert has cautioned that the current budgetary reprieve shouldn’t be seen as an end to fiscal concerns. “This is just a lull,” Lambert said. “We must take advantage of this time to prepare for the new realities that are surely coming. If we do, we can be in charge of our destiny, not just reacting to cut after cut as we have since 2008.”