The Klamath Community College Board of Education approved KCC’s 2014-2015 budget during its June 24 meeting, paving the way for the college’s continued growth and new program development.
Building on successes of the 2013-2014 academic year, which include the highest percentage FTE enrollment increase among all of Oregon’s 17 community colleges, an approximately 33 percent increase in enrollment in online classes, and numerous community partnerships and administrative efficiencies, this budget will once again allow KCC to seek out new and innovative ways to deliver cost-effective and relevant higher education services.
“We can’t simply rest on our laurels and stick with the status quo,” said KCC President Dr. Roberto Gutierrez. “That said, we take our role as stewards of taxpayer money very seriously, and we know we have to use it effectively and efficiently.”
By partnering with other public and private entities, KCC has seen a multiplication of its resources. “Last year we partnered with Klamath County School District, Klamath Falls City Schools, Lake County School District No. 7, Oregon State University, the 173rd Fighter Wing, Lake Health District, and others in order to ensure that we got the most bang for the buck with every dollar spent,” Dr. Gutierrez said. “This is the same mentality we have going forward. These innovations are making higher education opportunities available and affordable to more people in our region than ever before.”
The approximately $43.4 million total budget (which includes $20.8 million in federal financial aid for students) calls for a tuition increase of $6.50 per credit, a decision that was not made lightly. “Any time we increase tuition, it is done only as a last resort,” Dr. Gutierrez said. “Before recommending this increase, every other option was looked at. We went through each and every department with a fine-toothed comb to find all areas where cuts and efficiencies could be located.”
KCC was one of the few community colleges in Oregon not to increase tuition last year, according to KCC Vice President of Administrative Services and Chief Financial Officer Eric Stasak. “Our budget was stretched tight as we invested in additional full-time faculty and key staff for new programs while holding tuition flat last year,” he said. “After experiencing an overall enrollment drop of approximately 15 percent from our peak in 2011-2012, Dr. Gutierrez’s bold decision to invest in the face of enrollment declines has paid off with strong enrollment gains this year while setting us up for more growth to come.”
The increase was deemed necessary in order for KCC to continue to grow, develop new programs, and serve a wide array of students, like Airmen at Kingsley Field. “Oregon ranks 47th out of 50 for state funding of higher education,” Dr. Gutierrez said. “The fact of the matter is, in the absence of material state funding increases for community colleges, if we want to be able to continue serving students at a high level we must increase tuition at this time.”
The tuition increase goes into effect fall term.