College plans to slash spending to meet projected enrollment drop

College leaders are planning on a 2 percent, across-the-board cut as enrollment continues to fall at the local institution. (The Enterprise/File).

ONTARIO – Treasure Valley Community College is planning for another drop in enrollment in the coming school year, prompting plans for reduced spending.

President Dana Young advised the college staff recently that she is planning on cutting spending by 2 percent, or about $350,000. The new budget year starts July 1.

“Given that our enrollment numbers have been declining, we feel it is prudent to budget for a decrease in enrollment for next year, instead of flat enrollment,” Young said in an email to staff. “Planning for budget reductions on the front end will help us reduce the need to make the mid-year cuts next year.”

In recent years, college officials have had to make cuts half way through the year because of unanticipated drops in enrollment.

Student enrollment this year dropped 6 percent in full-time equivalent numbers.

That continued a trend dating back to 2010, when the college had 3,627 students on campus. For the 2016-17 school year, 2,292 students were in classrooms.

Those showing up for fall classes won’t see a tuition increase.

Citing no support from students and months of turmoil over contract negotiations, the college board decided last week against raising tuition.

The board was presented with a plan to increase tuition by $3 per credit to raise an estimated $130,000 for the college.

With the no vote by the board, students will continue to pay $99 per credit for in-state costs and $109 per credit for those from out of state.

“Although next year’s PERS costs are looming, the collective sense on campus was that after months of what felt like a divisive process, not raising tuition would provide some relief for students, as well as an acknowledgment that much of what was achieved from the contract savings was part of an effort to hold costs down as much as possible for students,” said Abby Lee, associate vice president of the college.

Lee said in a time of rising costs among colleges in the state, TVCC is hoping that holding the line on tuition will be a “selling point for cost-conscious students.”

“This is also a recognition that the recent sacrifices made by both sides were truly for the benefit of the students,” Lee said, referencing the conclusion of recent contract negotiations.

Faculty members agreed to forgo pay raises in the coming years. The college, however, also terminated several instructors.

College Vice President Kevin Kimball warned the board that the college still must find new revenue to balance its budget.

“Increasing enrollment by 40 new full-time students would cover this gap,” Kimball said.

If the board had approved the tuition increase, the college was still looking at cutting $217,000 due to declining enrollment.

Young cited the tight labor market as the reason for the decline in enrollment.

“A strong economy and low unemployment rates still make for a difficult recruiting season,” Young said.

The college is banking on medical assistant, aviation and early childhood education programs to attract new students.

“When we increase revenues from enrollment growth, then we will be able to add back resources to areas we have reduced,” said Young.

Reporter John L. Braese: [email protected] or 541-473-3377.