One of the first few casualties in the financial battle here at Bellevue College was an unfilled advisor position. Two part-time employees were granted full-time status to compensate for the lack of available personnel. For the business savvy, that’s a net loss of 0.5 full time equivalent.
But more cuts are being recommended at budget hearings says Thomas Pritchard, the Vice President of Student Services.
Student service programs represent a specific portion of the college budget. As such, it will be affected by any fluctuations in financial assets. While everyone should be taking a proportionat cut, the college recognizes the large number of students that are currently enrolled here at BC.
This means that any and all support services are tasked nearly to their maximum ability, but the people in charge of the college financial structuring are not requiring these services to take on their full portion of the revenue reduction yet.
To adjust to some of the possible upcoming losses, money that would have been marked for goods and services were reduced. This is money that would normally have gone towards printing in some departments, equipment purchases, as well as other expenditures that various sections would have needed.
But the reality is that we’re facing the loss of real people on top of the money and open positions. Among other positions, it’s been recommended that the Director of Outreach and Admissions be cut. According to Pritchard, Bellevue College may be losing an Associate Dean of Enrollment Services, which has also been a recommendation.
There are other unpleasant effects of the budget cut that could be a severe detriment to the student body and their success. There is a position opening for a faculty counselor, but there are already calls for that to be closed out even before it has the opportunity to be filled.
Faculty counselors help students identify and overcome personal obstacles as well as academic barriers. The current counselors have schedules that are filled daily with students who are frequently in various states of emotional crisis. With the economy in the state that it is in, the numbers of these students-in-need are increasing.
In terms of student jobs, there are not likely to be any direct losses. However, with all of the upcoming reductions, there may be less money available to hire students into open positions. Students who could have potentially been able to gain employment through the college will now have to seek other opportunities elsewhere.
Financial aid resources will be another sector that is likely to fall prey to the budget cuts. The county legislature is currently eyeing the State-Need grant for significant cuts or even complete elimination.
The State-Need grant is awarded based upon the income of a student’s household. Since its creation, it has been it has been an asset to providing students with the funding to attain their goals in higher education.
If education is the key, access is critical to achieving the key. How are we getting there? Raising tuition? Cutting state-need. The least able to pay for an education will be impacted the greatest.
During the November elections, the voters in the state of Washington rejected several tax initiatives that would have raised revenue. For instance, there was an initiative that contained a possible tax on soda and candy.
There was also “Initiative 1098” which could have potentially raised billions of dollars for education and health care through an income tax on high-wage earners. This was defeated by approximately 65% of voters.
“I’d love to see this economy turn around on a dime, right now,” said Pritchard. “I’ve thought about what I’d like to see more than just a few times.”
According to Pritchard, we need to determine what is considered a fair amount of funding for higher education. The communities need to get real about how taxes are structured in this state and how they can be part of a positive change. The state of Washington tends to add tax on top of taxes.
Currently, “there is no tax plan that supports an infrastructure and economic development that allows for more accurate forecasting,” he adds. The current forecasts are based partially off of consumption taxes which are difficult for economists and politicians to get a handle on in terms of what resources they will have the next year. It is comparable to speculative investments.
With any speculation involving a commodity, when the economy is doing well people are buying and investments are generally stabilized. In a bad economy, all of that is undermined as people struggle to afford the bare minimums that they need.
Bellevue College is working with their institutional advancement programs to develop more scholarship money to help those enrollees and potential enrollees in the lower income brackets. Administrators are reaching out to various groups in the surrounding communities and business partners for more scholarships.
“The bottom line is that the college and its employees are here for the students – we’ll do what we have to do for our students,” ended Tom Pritchard.