Trustees Approve SFSC Budget FY2013
The SFCC Board of Trustees approved the first-ever operating and capital outlay budgets for South Florida State College for Fiscal Year 2013. Obviously, it’s an important milestone for our college. It is the smallest budget I’ve presented to the Board in three years, and for the third year in a row, the proposed budget is less than the budget approved for the previous year. Furthermore, it is less than 1 percent above our approved budget of five years ago. Times are tough! Nevertheless, it is a good budget that will allow us to move forward on a number of priorities and initiatives. Here is a brief summary of our FY 2013 priorities.
As of July 1, South Florida State College begins enrolling students pursuing baccalaureate degrees. Our first such degree is a Bachelor of Applied Science in Supervision and Management. We expect a relatively small number of students, perhaps 30 or more. But there is nothing small about the changes necessitated by our transformation from a Level I to a Level II baccalaureate degree-granting institution. It is an expansion of our mission, and one that will require that we develop services and systems to support a new group of students, different in many ways from those we have traditionally served. During the coming year, we will also begin planning for two additional bachelor’s degrees in nursing and elementary education. I stressed to the Board and to others, that we are adding these new opportunities for our students, but we are definitely not losing all that we’ve become–a comprehensive, open door, accessible, and demonstrably excellent community college, with a new name and an expanded mission.
At long last, we’re rolling out our Guide to Personal Success (GPS) and First-Year Experience (FYE) seminar for our students with the intention of giving them a better chance for success. As you know, this project is the result of several years of program review, institutional assessment, and planning. It springs from the recognition that many students come to us unprepared for the college experience and that we can do something about it. We’ve already begun this new initiative and are excited about the potential outcomes.
Allocation of Resources to Support Learning
This new budget shifts our vital but limited resources to support our core academic programs. For the first time in a number of years, we’re able to add four new faculty positions in nursing, dental hygiene, mathematics, and supervision and management. Additionally, we are replacing five faculty vacancies experienced in the previous year. Through retirements and attrition, we’ve been able to merge and reorganize a number of departments and programs. As a result we have a net 2 percent reduction in budgeted administrative costs and an 11 percent increase in faculty costs as compared to current year expenditures.
Information Systems to Support CQI
We’re merging our Institutional Effectiveness and Information Technology departments and implementing a number of new computer applications and systems to support our efforts for continuous quality improvement. A number of the new applications are the result of aggressive pursuit of federal grants, especially the Title III Resource Development Grant we received last year. Through this reorganization and these new systems, we should be able to free our human talents to do what humans do best, and at the same time, put our systems to work doing what computers do best.
New Academic Programs
In addition to the new bachelor of applied science degree, we are hopeful of receiving a significant National Science Foundation grant that will allow us to establish two associate degrees and two certificates in the bioenergy field of study. We expect the certificate programs to be available for high school students enrolled in the SFSC Career Academy as well as our traditional adult students. In addition, state funding will allow us to remodel facilities and acquire technical equipment to support our Fire Science Technology program.
Several years ago, we made it a priority to ensure that our computer equipment is up to date. That commitment will certainly continue under this new budget. We generally replace most computers on a four-year cycle, but some systems especially in support of highly specialized academic programs need to be refreshed more often. That commitment will continue. Additionally, we will expand the number of smart classrooms at all of our sites.
Strategic Financial Management
These budget priorities are possible, even in a difficult economy with reduced revenues, because we have a talented and highly engaged group of budget managers who understand the fiscal culture in which we must operate. Through frugality, creativity, aggressive pursuit of alternative funding, and a strong spirit and understanding of our mission, we are able to accomplish so much more that is critical for our students and their further education.
Our Board of Trustees along with governing boards of all public entities in our state are struggling with many difficult decisions. In our case, perhaps the most difficult issue facing our Board was whether to increase tuition by the 5 percent authorized by the state Legislature and the governor. It was only after much discussion and many assurances that they approved my recommendation. At the same time, we are able to reduce a number of laboratory fees, and there are a number of other fees charged by other colleges that we do not and will not charge our students. Even with the 5 percent tuition increase, which amounts to about $15 for a 3 credit course, our tuition is still more than 6 percent below the maximum authorized by the state. Furthermore, we have a number of sources of support to meet the financial needs of our students and to remove financial barriers in every possible way.
This is just a brief summary of our first ever South Florida State College budget, but I wanted each of you to know the priorities. But more importantly, I wanted to thank you for your understanding and cooperation as we’ve faced some difficult economic challenges.
Norman L. Stephens Jr., President
South Florida Community College
P.S. Did I mention that the Board approved a 2 percent salary increase for all eligible employees? I wish it could be more. You deserve it!