KSC keeps finances in check during budget threats

Lindsey Arceci

Equinox Staff

With all the information going around surrounding the possible university system budget cuts, it may be hard to know what information is true. Not to mention what Keene State College is really doing to help buffer students, as well as the school, from possible finance increases.

According to President Helen Giles-Gee, KSC faculty and staff are very understanding of issues regarding how raises don’t take place for reasons that will benefit the school as a whole.

Not only was she pleased with how staff handles situations like this, but she also said how proud she has been lately of the student body.

“I think students have been very supportive at the State House and in writing letters regarding the budget,” Giles-Gee said. “I think if students learn as much as possible and contribute service to the community, then they demonstrate through their actions the value of this education.”

If students are doing their part to help get involved and informed on the situation, then that is what shows legislature why hard-working students attend this institution.

Giles-Gee said there are certain things the school is working on to help bring in more revenue.

“We invested in hiring three additional tenure track faculty every year for three years. This year we’re bringing in, in addition to those three, six more, and in bringing in the nursing program we’re funding more faculty there to boost the enrollment which would stabilize our revenue structure,” she said.

Another project to help bring in revenue for the school is the new summer school. “We’re looking at that to bring in revenue, not just to the college, but also to help with the affordability for students,” Giles-Gee added.

She also said that although the school tries to make cut-backs to help save money, there are also certain things they must invest in to help students.

“We’ve been very deliberate about trying to increase revenue, cut our costs, and reduce out budget. At the same time though, things continue to get more expensive,” Giles-Gee said. “Books in the library, we have to keep up with that. Having a wireless campus is something that every student has wanted. So there are some investments we have to make because they are essential to having students do their studies in the best way possible.”

Another concern students may have is the increases the school makes in faculty and staff raises.

The administrative board, which Giles-Gee is a part of, makes a recommendation to the board of trustees regarding salary increases for employees who are not union members. She said last year there was a 1 percent increase to her salary for part of the year and 2 percent for part of the year, so it was more of a 1 percent increase.

“This year we have not made a recommendation to the board because of the status of the budget, and not knowing what the forthcoming appropriation will be, and so that recommendation has not been made,” Giles-Gee added.

A lot has yet to be decided since the budget will not be approved until the end of June. According to Vice President for Finance and Planning, Jay Kahn, if the proposed budget by the university system goes through, a lot of reconsideration would need to take place.

“If the reduction is as deep as proposed by the New Hampshire House of Representatives, it would require some significant reconsideration of the budget’s plans that the college and the Trustees discussed earlier,” Kahn said. “I don’t think anybody anticipates us getting as far back as the governor’s level budget proposed. But there’s still quite a distance between what the governor proposed and what is in the House bill.”

Kahn continued by saying there is not an immediate fix to the budget reductions problem, if it is approved.

“The amount of time it would take to implement that level of reduction is more than we’re going to have to do. So there are likely to be some short-term and long-term steps that need to be taken in order to position us to take some longer termed steps. We may have to leave open vacancies.”

He said that by leaving positions open, it gives the school more time to make long-term decisions about staffing.

Another option he said was that the Trustees may consider whether to use some of the school’s reserves to help bridge a short-term period until long-term decisions can be made.

“A third option is looking at tuition and fees one more time. And we’re going to have to look at both the fiscal ‘12 and ‘13 year because these reductions are going to cover minimally a two year period,” Kahn added.

Kim Harkness, the Interim Director of Human Resources, said that the school builds up a reserve of money from money that is accumulated for various reasons and saved for emergencies.

“Whether it’s enrollment figures, when enrollment dips unexpectedly, there’s always some kind of reserve that a good institution tries to make sure that they have, but it’s up to the Trustees whether they want to use it or not,” Harkness said.

After decisions are made by the Trustees, Harkness said the next decisions are given to the campus as to how they are going to manage the money they are given.

“There are both long and short-term strategies from slashing supply budgets to travel budgets and equipment budgets, looking at positions that can be cut, can we consider a furlough?” Harkness continued. “Not many decisions have been made impacting people; it’s mostly around budgets so far.”

On a final note, Harkness said that it’s about control and having guidelines so the school can make the advancements it needs without going too far so that things like salaries, can still grow.

“The school has to be as efficient as possible or it has its impact on tuition costs, and we do show up as being very efficient in our use of resources,” Harkness said.


Lindsey Arceci can be contacted at larceci@keeneequinox.com


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