RCC faces budget cuts

First Posted: 4/23/2014

LUMBERTON — Robeson Community College will be expected to do more with less money if projected state funding cuts take effect when the new fiscal year begins July 1, according to Pamela Hilbert, the college’s president.

According to Hilbert, as the college prepares its budget for the new year, RCC could be operating with $1.9 million, or 9.8 percent, less than during the current fiscal year. The projected amount of state funding the college will receive in the upcoming fiscal year is $18,214,604, down from the current year of $20,187,842.

“We definitely will feel these cuts,” Hilbert said. “They will be felt throughout the college.”

Hilbert said the cuts would result in a few staff reductions, through attrition of layoffs. She did not want to identify any specific because budget work is continuing.

The cuts, she said, would also mean the elimination of the college’s Spanish program, moving some equipment money into salaries, and limiting the purchase of supplies. When possible, contracts for software updates and services as well as contracts for equipment maintenance, would be paid out of the current budget, she said.

Hilbert also said that because staff development is important to both the growth of RCC employees and the students they serve, it would not be affected. Some new positions would be created for vocational programs, with the positions being funded through grants.

Hilbert said that the projected budget figures provided by the N.C. Community College System are not final. The figures also do not reflect the college’s total budget, which when finalized will include federal grants, local funding from the county and donations.

Hilbert attributed much of the reduction in state funding to the college’s declining enrollment. Funding, she said, is allocated by the state to individual community colleges based on the amount of time students attend classes.

Hilbert cited a number of reasons for RCC’s declining enrollment and less student time in class, including a reduction in the number of students who can receive federal grants and other financial aid to fund their education, and the state’s restructuring of developmental education programs, a process that cut the time students must attend basic skills classes.

“We are now more efficient in developmental education so we lost funding because students are in class less time,” Hilbert said.

Hilbert said that RCC and other community colleges want the state General Assembly to put money back in the funding formula so that individual colleges are not penalized for becoming more efficient in their developmental and basic skills programs.

“We want the state to allow us to reinvest the money we are saving in our developmental education programs back into our technology and work development programs,” she said. “The governor (Pat McCrory) is supporting reinvesting back into our work force development and training programs.”