By Angelia McGowan
Budget matters dominated the May 4 meeting of the Metro State Board of Trustees.
The board approved the parameters for next year's budget based on the $519 million in general fund state appropriation approved by the legislature's Joint Budget Committee in March, which reduces the College's state funding by $7.1 million compared to last year and includes the end of federal stimulus funds and non-base general fund on June 30, 2011.
Vice President for Administration, Finance and Facilities Natalie Lutes will present a final budget at the board's June 1 meeting, based on the parameters just approved. The parameters include tuition and fees consistent with the rates outlined in the Financial Accountability Plan (FAP), approved by the BOT in November 2010. Resident tuition and fees for students taking 15 credit hours are projected to be $2,416.93 per semester, a $370.67 increase from last year. This includes the conversion of the information technology fee and registration fee to tuition, as well as the elimination of the Internet course fee. The net increase, which includes the fee conversion to tuition and student fee increases (approved by student vote) represents a $19.60 increase in fees per semester.
Budget parameters on the expense side include funding for approved faculty promotions as well as new faculty positions to move the College toward its goal of having 60 percent of credit hours taught by tenured, tenure track and category II (visiting) faculty. Other expected increases in expenses include an Auraria Library fee increase of 1.5 percent, a projected scholarship increase of approximately 50 percent and an increase in staffing for college-wide departments. The parameters also include proposed salary increases for faculty and administrators and providing an eco-pass to state classified employees.
Another expense parameter, raised by President Stephen Jordan, was a proposal put forward by Auraria "that tries to deal with the very difficult issue of deteriorating facilities. It proposes that the three institutions collectively fund a controlled maintenance plan that would take care of immediate emergency needs on the campus."
Jordan added that funding for controlled maintenance was something that the state would have paid for in the past. Auraria has requested that Metro State pay $971,000, roughly 50 percent of the campus's controlled maintenance costs. Jordan stressed to the board that this would be the equivalent of another 1.5 percent tuition increase, which is included in the proposed tuition rate. If this additional tuition increase is not approved, the board would need to look at another reduction somewhere else in the budget to accommodate the loss.
Jordan commented on two legislative bills of importance to the College. HB 11-1301, which would give state colleges and universities greater autonomy in use of student fees, personnel matters and construction projects, plus additional flexibility in other administrative areas, received final approval from the House on Wednesday. SB11-052, which addresses the master planning process, was unanimously approved by the House Education Committee on Wednesday after testimonies, including Jordan's. Read coverage of his testimony and more about the bill in the second section of a May 4 Education News Colorado article.
Jordan also commented on last week's failure of legislation (in the House) that would have provided in-state tuition to undocumented students in Colorado. "We know it was a very difficult decision," said Jordan, who testified for SB 11-126, which lost by only one vote. "We hope this is a sign that we are getting closer, and appreciate the support of the Board of Trustees on the bill."
During the Metro State Foundation report, Trustee Bill Hanzlik reported that over the last three quarters the number of gifts is up by 35 percent, the number of donors is up by 30 percent and the average gift is up by 8 percent.
Alumni Trustee Eric Peterson reported that the Alumni Association is developing a comprehensive communications and engagement plan for the Alumni Association Task Force.
The board also adopted the school's official fight song, A Rowdy Encounter, which was performed with humor and spirit during the meeting by the board, faculty, staff and students in attendance.
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