March 3, 2009 State Budget Update - Ohlone College President's Office

Members of the Ohlone College Community:

As you have heard by now, the State Legislature has approved revisions to this year’s (2008-09) budget and a budget for 2009-10.  For Ohlone, this year is impacted as follows:

  • 0.68% cost of living adjustment eliminated -
    We expected this.  It means we will not receive a COLA this year.
  • State funding for mandates reduced -
    These are payments that reimburse districts for the cost of things we are required by law to perform, such as negotiation expenses.  Since reimbursement is uneven, we don’t count on this funding.
  • Apportionment funding deferred -
    Payments to Ohlone from the State for apportionment will be delayed.  This may cause us a cash flow problem.  We are planning how best to handle this.

For 2008-09, Ohlone College is in good fiscal shape.  Still, we will want to be frugal because the more money we can save for next year, the better we will be prepared for any circumstance.  Although the Legislature approved a spending plan for 2009-10 that is fairly favorable for community colleges (see the February 19th CCLC memo for details), significant changes to the plan may occur as a result of the May Revise and issues that will be voted on in a special election on May 19th.  As it stands now, the State’s 2009-2010 budget plan includes the following:

  • 3% enrollment growth funding for the system -
    This is an average for all colleges.  Ohlone’s share might be less that 3% of this year’s apportionment, but we are using this percentage to plan the size of next year’s schedule until we have a more precise number.
  • State funding for mandates continued at reduced level -
    We have not included these reimbursements in our budget.
  • No cost of living adjustment estimated to be 5.02% -
    This represents a significant loss in purchasing power.
  • Recapturing of prior-year unspent balances -
    We are not impacted by this item.

Last month I reported to you that we are striving to reduce expenditures by reviewing each program/department budget with the budget manager, imposing an early cut-off date for purchase orders, adhering to a hiring freeze to the extent possible, and consolidating building use.  We also are reducing summer by 18% so we do not exceed 3% growth proposal in the State budget. 

Efforts to increase funding are moving forward.  Be aware that in some cases we are spending modest amounts of money in order to increase funding.  We have engaged the services of a bond consultant who will be investigating the feasibility of a future bond.  We are also seeking State funding to upgrade the systems in the buildings on Fremont campus.  These projects will depend on the passage of a State bond, but once passed the funding will upgrade many of our out-of-date buildings. 

I have analyzed the benefit our international programs for Ohlone’s bottom line.  They bring funding to the college that is outside the State apportionment, so increasing the number of international students at Ohlone not only offers our resident students opportunities to engage with other cultures, it brings revenue to us at a time of particular need.  Later this spring I will be traveling to China with a small group to ensure that our contacts with our several sister colleges are healthy and that we continue to recruit new international students successfully.  Rest assured that no general fund monies will be used to support this effort.

We are applying for new grants including one with a potential for bringing funds to Ohlone over three years.  This grant is supported by the National Science Foundation and will allow us to build on our successful LAB program model while expanding career and technical training opportunities for our students during the economic downturn. 

Finally, we are still awaiting information on what the federal economic stimulus package has to offer community colleges. 

We are continuing to follow the principles I set out--to protect Ohlone’s fiscal well-being, protect programs and services that directly impact students, and avoid layoffs of our staff, faculty, and administrators.  I am happy to report that no March 15th letters are being issued.

I will continue to keep you updated.

Sincerely,

Gari Browning, Ph.D.
President/Superintendent

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