Since the beginning of the year, we have been engaged in an intensive effort on multiple fronts to address recurring and shifting financial challenges as Nevada continues its chronic fiscal crisis. The crisis has affected all of our employees and students, and our work to address the problem has required the energy and commitment of many of our faculty and staff. To all of you I express my appreciation for your advocacy of education, your thoughtful consideration of solutions, and your patience as this crisis seems to repeat itself year after year.
What began as a 6-8 percent budget cut grew within weeks to 20-22 percent. Thankfully, as a result of the special session of the Legislature, the operating reduction has settled at 6.9 percent. This represents about $ 1.9 million for the rest of this fiscal year and $5.7 million for the next for CSN. We will continue to use our budget reduction, Faculty Senate budget and program evaluation committees to finalize the reduction plans and to help us prepare for the next biennium.
Legislation regarding a 4/10 work schedule is still under review by legal staff at system and institutional levels. We need the results of the legal interpretation to determine how the program might impact CSN and NSHE. We will know more following the Board of Regents meeting, taking place at the Charleston campus, on Thursday and Friday. I encourage you to attend as the budget and other issues will be extensively discussed. If you cannot attend in person, a link will be available on our home page to watch the meeting live online.
The latest situation facing us for the remainder of this biennium and into the next is on a scale unmatched in recent memory. The Legislature used a combination of operating cuts, salary reductions, furloughs, and revenue increases to balance the state budget—for now. Moreover, looking ahead to the next biennium, the fiscal challenge for the state is daunting, as we anticipate a deficit the size of half the state’s budget. One time funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) will no longer supplement the state operating budget in 2011. As a result, the next three to four years will see major financial difficulties for Nevada and CSN.
Priorities during past budget cuts have served us well: preserve jobs, protect the core mission of access and instructional quality, and prepare for a more strategic future for CSN. The magnitude of the current crisis will test our ability to hold to these priorities. The plan we are in the process of developing includes bold actions to advance our mission with more long-term decisions, guided by student demand and community needs.
Our budget planning will meet the state requirement for budget cuts and also leverages important initiatives for our future. Our goal is not just to achieve cost savings, but to build a culture of continuous improvement, institutional strength and viability, and provide support for our academic mission more efficiently.
Strategic Planning and Positioning
Concurrent with our budget planning, our strategic planning continues to move forward. We expect the draft phase of our strategic updating to be completed by the end of March, at which point we will open the draft for input from the college community. As you may know, we launched a Strategic Planning Process, with extensive faculty, staff and student participation across the institution, to ensure that CSN is well positioned to maintain its unique standing in the greater Las Vegas community.
Reorganization and Restructuring
Finally, among the committees looking at CSN, we have launched an organizational review committee so that CSN can function more effectively and become more viable in the future. In the past, we have initiated best practices in facilities management and finance. We will build on these efforts, by rethinking how other aspects of the College are organized to improve student success and will be sharing more details in the coming weeks.
As always, if you have questions, please let me know.
Regards to all,