Today I met with students during a town hall to discuss the budget. I would like to share with you some of the information discussed. As a clearer picture begins to surface about what CSN is facing this legislative session, I think it is important you have the facts.
In my “all” message on February 16th , I reported that we have been directed to prepare scenarios and preliminary plans for dealing with the governor’s recommended reductions. Our scenarios include every expenditure item that CSN has, including the potential closure of all our sites and centers. Additionally, we have been directed to provide cost information on the possible closure of our Henderson campus. Without mitigation in the form of new revenues, all these items are on the table because of the magnitude of the governor’s recommendation: the reduction of $26 million in state support plus the loss of fee revenues associated with enrollment cuts.
As we delve further into our work to examine these budget reduction scenarios, I shared with students that CSN may need to cut the Henderson campus, the smallest of our three main campuses, and all of the sites and centers. We would also reduce class sections, impacting, in total, an estimated 13,000 students. Again, let me stress, this is without any kind of mitigation to the governor’s proposed budget reduction and is a worst case scenario. But this should clarify for you the gravity of the situation we face.
What are some of the mitigations we are exploring? We are looking at a 26% increase in student fees over the biennium (13% each year), which would put CSN’s fees at the WICHE regional average. If we do this, we would want to plow 10% back into financial aid. We believe such an increase if approved by the board would bring in approximately $5 million the first year of the biennium and $11 million in the second if enrollments hold steady and we do not lose students or price them out of CSN. In addition, we will offer another buy-out option in the coming months for faculty and staff. More information will be forthcoming on this option from HR.
I would also like to stress that CSN has a retrenchment process that is part of our strategic plan that sets forth a reduction process short of program closures and financial exigency, using the shared governance model. This is a good plan that we will likely need to tap to provide college wide input to address funding reductions and how they are to be implemented.
The Henderson campus — home to our model HVAC program, our baseball and softball teams and many other CSN jewels — as well as the nine CSN sites and centers, all play a critical role in our access mission and are integral parts of the communities in which they reside. I do not view this scenario lightly. I do not want to lose any campuses or deny students access to our programs. I am advocating against any budget cuts that impact our access mission, and I hope that you are joining me in this effort. I hope that you have contacted and will continue to contact your legislative representatives in support of CSN and higher education funding.
As always, should have questions, please contact me.