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RCC hopes growing enrollment offsets state cuts

Rogue Community College expects to see a drop in state funding, but is counting on growing enrollment and a modest tuition increase to keep its budget roughly the same in the coming year.

The college has proposed a general fund budget of $29.2 million for 2009-10, up only slightly from this fiscal year's $29.1 million spending plan.

RCC officials presented the proposed budget late last month to stay on track for adopting a new budget in June, even though funding from the state hasn't been determined yet. A revenue forecast from the state is expected in mid-May, but the state might not finalize its budget until summer, they said.

"We have to adopt something," said Lynda Warren, the college's chief financial officer.

The state's contribution toward community colleges in the 2009-11 biennium has been estimated by RCC and other schools as ranging between $350 million and $500 million, she explained. After much deliberation, RCC decided to build its 2009-10 budget on the assumption that the Legislature would provide $440 million to community colleges statewide. That represents a $60 million decrease in funding from current levels.

RCC officials said that was their best guess for now, but they were prepared to adjust their budget when legislators finalize the state's budget.

In RCC's proposed budget, state funding dips to $6.3 million, or 22 percent of the college's total revenue, down from $8.5 million, or 29 percent, in the current budget.

Tuition and fees in the proposal grow to $9.5 million, or 32.5 percent of the total revenue, up from $7.7 million, or 26.5 percent, in the current budget.

The proposed budget includes a $5 per credit increase in tuition, which already has been approved by the board, and takes into account three terms of steady increases in enrollment, officials said in the budget message.

During the current academic year, RCC has seen roughly 11 percent growth in its full-time equivalents, a standard way of accounting for both full- and part-time students based on credits earned, over the previous year. Because of that dramatic increase, the proposed budget takes a conservative approach and projects no further growth in enrollment, officials said.

The proposal trims about $363,000 or 2 percent, from spending on personnel, which accounts for about 76 percent of the budget. The reduction is accomplished through a six-day furlough of all employees. One furlough day also was taken this year to increase the starting balance for next year's budget, RCC officials reported.

The materials and services budget has decreased by $13,477 and capital outlay has increased by $8,392. Transfers to other funds, including funds for the Higher Education Center, paying off bonds and special maintenance and equipment costs, and an unemployment reserve, increased by $70,433.

Reach reporter Anita Burke at 776-4485, or e-mail aburke@mailtribune.com.