SFCC Delivers Education Despite Tight Budget
In spite of troubled economic times and another reduction in state funding, South Florida Community College remains a good neighbor and focuses on educating the residents of its service district—Desoto, Hardee, and Highlands counties.
During the May SFCC District Board of Trustees annual budget workshop, SFCC President Dr. Norm Stephens said, “This was the most challenging budget years due to the uncertainty of how the Legislature would deal with the $4.7 billion state budget deficit.”
Dr. Stephens opened the workshop with commendations for SFCC employees. “I’m extremely proud of our employees and leadership team. As a result of their efforts over the last several years, the college is in a position to weather this economic storm,” Dr. Stephens said. “Employees have offered many creative suggestions for cost cutting, many of which we’ve already implemented. They’ve done a wonderful job.” Dr. Stephens indicated that employees were particularly understanding of delays in filing vacancies, and many are absorbing additional responsibilities through reorganizations resulting from not filling other positions. He reported that thermostats are being adjusted as part of an effort to reduce utilities expenditures by as much as 10 percent.
Dr. Stephens made it clear, however, that he was not recommending any employee layoffs. “Most importantly, we’ve provided funding to allow for substantial enrollment growth and will do all that we can to encourage more students to attend SFCC in the coming academic year,” he said.
In his presentation to the board, Dr. Stephens said that SFCC’s final legislative appropriation resulted in an 8.35 percent reduction in state revenue for college operations, which is approximately $1.4 million. In addition, the Florida Legislature approved an 8 percent tuition increase. “This tuition increase continues a significant shift in the burden of the cost of college education to the students,” Dr. Stephens said. “The student fee revenues have increased from 15.77 percent of our total operating revenues in 2007-08 to 25 percent of the projected 2011-12 revenues. Several of our Florida College System institutions have crossed the 50 percent line, with state funding now providing less than half the operating revenues needed for delivery educational programs and services.”
Despite the reduction in state funding, SFCC is focusing on its core mission—quality higher education. “We’ll maintain our open door policy,” Dr. Stephens said, “We’re looking forward to the new academic year and doing all that we can to help our students complete their degrees and prepare for the future.”