The board first perused the proposed budget at a Beeville Country Club workshop May 31; approval on Monday was with no changes.
With $24.6 million in expenses, the surplus will be allocated to the facility’s depleted reserve fund — one of three payments of $1.5 million.
Unlike previous budgets, based on inflated enrollment estimates, the 2013-2014 budget, according to CBC President Dr. Beatriz Espinoza, is based on an average of the enrollment of the last three years.
Of the projected revenue, state funds comprise 26 percent, tuition and fees account for 40 percent and operation grants make up 15 percent.
The highest expected expense for the next fiscal year includes $5.8 million for instructor salaries.
Faced with a deficit of nearly $2 million, the board last month voted not to renew contracts for a dozen instructors. The cutbacks are part of a system-wide belt tightening to keep the facility’s budget in the black.
Espinoza also is grappling with declining revenue caused by lower enrollment — which has steadily dropped since she assumed the presidency last year.
The trend continues.
Summer enrollment is down 13 percent from the same time last year and down 25 percent from 2011.
The declines were registered at the Alice and Kingsville sites and, surprisingly, on Internet-only courses which recently had shown increased growth.
The Beeville campus enjoyed a 5 percent gain this summer.
In addition to a more stringent budget next year, 2013-2014 will see be another cost-saving measure: lengthening the instruction week from four days to five.
The extra day was championed by CBC Board Chairman Paul Jaure, who first suggested it at the May 31 workshop, when he decried the evaporation of what he terms “college life.”
“This certainly would allow students to be engaged every day in school,” he said. “I think that if we are going to have that good old community college where all the students are involved in all sorts of activities, we could certainly do a lot more with the students to help them be a success. I’m talking about college life.”
A five-day week, he added, would help increase enrollment, with a resultant increase in revenue.
The college adopted a four-day instruction week in 2008.
Under the current schedule, instructors do not teach on Friday in order to have time for professional development and class preparation duties.
But many instructors, Espinoza says, simply took that day off. “We don’t want students to think the college is closed on a Friday when it isn’t,” she told the board.
The board approved the idea unanimously despite being reminded that the four-day week had been adopted to save the price of gasoline and that many students preferred taking classes only on Tuesday and Thursday.
“That’s what I liked when I was in college,” Trustee Laura Fischer said. “But I did not do as well in those courses.”
“It is our responsibility not to have a dorm full of students with nothing to do because we don’t have classes on Friday,” Jaure said. “We’re supposed to be here for the students.”
Jaure asked Espinoza what other schools were doing. Espinoza said those with a five-day week vs. a four-day week were about even.
“What it comes down to,” she said, “is are we offering what students need to graduate? Are we doing that in a way that makes sense so that I can finish on time? It really doesn’t matter if it’s four days or five days, if we have that schedule in place. That’s primary.”
“I’ve seen that time and again. When you increase student engagement, you increase student success,” said Mark Secord, CBC’s vice president of instruction.
“This is in keeping with our goals of looking for ways to reduce costs, build revenue, streamline services and still keep our focus on student success,” Espinoza told the board.
Board members asked Espinoza to poll students this summer and this fall and to report those findings to them about the change — which cannot take effect until the fall semester of 2014 because to change the college catalog and the academic calendar requires six to nine months.
Bill Clough is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 122, or at beepic@mySouTex.com.