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Budget deficit signals for more cuts

The university faces a budget deficit, although student fees will not go up this year.
The deficit is expected to be about $8.3 million, according to Ken Long, the assistant vice president for Administration and Finance.
Campus-wide cuts are expected, as they have happened in the past several years, according to Long. Over $12 million has been cut over the past four years.
“It’s becoming increasingly hard to find where cuts can come from,” said Long. “Every area and every facet of the university could be impacted.”
Tuition is expected to increase by about 3 percent, since the consumer price index is between 2.7 and 3.1 percent, according to Long. The Board of Governors will decide the tuition in late June or early July.
University-based fees, however, will not be increased, according to an April 8 email from President Cevallos. These fees include room, board, the Student Union, the Recreation Center, transportation, and the Health Center.
The state appropriations, which would affect the budget and tuition, will not be known until late June or early July when the state Senate and governor approves the plan. The funding is expected to be flat.
According to Long, the funding took a hard hit on the budget in past years. State funding was cut by 18 percent two years ago and 5 percent last year.
Long attributes the budget crisis to increasing personnel expenses and a decrease in student enrollment.
Operating expenses will rise by about $57,000 while personnel expenses, which are about 75 percent of the budget, will rise by about $6 million.
Collective bargaining agreements with the State College and University Professional Association (SCUPA) and the Association of State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) increase expenditures by about $64,000 and $954,000 respectively.
While salaries for the 2013-14 academic year are expected to increase by 4.1 percent, non-represented groups will have an average 3 percent salary increase, according to Long.
Healthcare and retirement costs will increase as well. According to a 2013-14 budget report prepared by Administration and Finance and, Budget and Business Services, retirement costs are expected to increase by 22 percent and healthcare costs by 8 percent.
Dr. Kevin Mahoney, Public Relations representative for the KU chapter of APSCUF, does not believe that there is not a budget crisis as the administration suggests.
“There’s been a long term stretch of using budget crises as a way to accomplish the administration’s goals,” said Mahoney.
Mahoney said that student enrollment increased by a good amount from the year he started to his seventh year. He said that APSCUF did not think the math added up with the budget, because enrollment and tuition increased while personnel expenses decreased, due to more temporary faculty and a larger student-to-faculty ratio.
Mahoney also does not think the budget should be a problem because he said Kutztown had 29.1 million in unrestricted net assets, which are unused funds. APSCUF members attended an April 2011 Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Board of Governors meeting, where each university had to report their unrestricted net assets. APSCUF concluded that Kutztown was the second healthiest PASSHE university after West Chester.
Matt Santos, director of University Relations, said that he is confident that Administration and Finance provided accurate information on the budget.
“If there was a way to avoid [cuts] I believe we would,” said Santos.
Enrollment has been declining lately, however. Enrollment is also down by about 4 percent this year. This caused a loss of about $3 million. Long said that enrollment is expected to decrease as well next year.
While Mahoney believes that enrollment is a problem, he attributes it to cuts on programs all over campus. He said that useful programs such as an advisement center were cut over the years. The advisement center had helped reduce retention by helping undeclared majors, especially first generation college students, according to Mahoney.
He thinks that the university’s plan to make the campus attractive, as mentioned in President Cevallos’ April 1 email, is not as beneficial in attracting students in the long run. Mahoney said he would prefer deep improvements to academics.
“I have had conversations with students and advisees who don’t know if they are going to come back,” said Mahoney.
The university launched an advertising campaign, called the “Best Choice I Ever Made,” to increase enrollment of future first year and transfer students. According to John Green, Associate Vice President of Communications, Marketing & External Affairs, it features a Facebook custom audience program, Google ads, online banner advertisements on media sites, billboards, radio, advertising in community colleges, and email and mail to high school seniors or prospects who have contacted KU.

By Emily Leayman

Categories: News

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