The Klamath Community College Board of Education unanimously approved the college’s 2013-2014 budget during its June 25 meeting, paving the way for new programs, facilities renovation and additional faculty and staff to better serve students and the community. The budget was approved with no increase to the cost of tuition, which remains at $83 per credit.
KCC is one of only four community colleges in Oregon not planning to increase tuition for the 2013-2014 academic year, while 13 of the state’s community colleges have proposed increases. At $83 per credit, KCC will have the most affordable tuition rate in the state.
“We believe that we offer students the greatest value for their tuition dollars among all of Oregon’s community colleges,” said KCC President Dr. Roberto Gutierrez. “With the quality of our instruction, our programs and our facilities, students are getting an exceptional educational experience at an affordable price.”
Building the 2013-2014 budget without including an increase in the cost of tuition was a top priority for Gutierrez and the KCC administration. “It’s easy to raise tuition,” he said. “What’s more difficult is going through the budget with a fine-toothed comb, identifying efficiencies, and putting the onus of balancing revenues and expenditures on the college, not the students.”
Other budget highlights include funding for a new culinary arts program, which is scheduled to begin this fall, and monies to establish service in Lake County through a joint partnership between KCC, Lake County and Lake County School District No. 7. The Lake County initiative is expected to result in a modest positive cash flow for KCC. The budget also establishes funding for three additional full-time faculty positions as well as additional staff to work with students in the Advanced Diploma Program and a newly created position of Director of Admissions, among others.
Through close teamwork between KCC faculty and KCC operations, the college was able to decrease the amount of bad debt write offs by approximately 50 percent this year. That debt is accrued when students collect a federal grant, then fail to attend enough classes to earn that grant and do not return it. “By working with faculty on an early alert system to identify students who do not attend class and shortening our internal process time on that debt, we have been able to significantly reduce our bad debt write offs,” said KCC Vice President for Administrative Services and Chief Financial Officer Eric Stasak.
According to Stasak, the college remains in very strong financial shape. “Due to the financial acumen and foundation established by previous administrations and continued hard work and efforts of our administration, faculty and staff, KCC is able to invest in many significant programs that will strongly serve our students and community,” he said. “Even during a period of significant declines in state funding for community colleges, KCC has continued to build a strong financial foundation.”
That period of declining state revenue appears to be over, as the state has tentatively approved $450 million in community college support for the 2013-2015 biennium. If granted final approval, the 2013-2015 biennium would mark the first time since 2007 that state funding to community colleges has increased.