OLEAN — While the board of trustees at Jamestown Community College was able to pass a $31.4 million budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year, the measure was challenging because of a $4 million deficit.
Dr. Daniel DeMarte, president of JCC, said Wednesday the ongoing coronavirus pandemic made building the college’s budget difficult.
“Given the continued economic uncertainty in our state, country, and throughout the world, this was a difficult budget to create,” DeMarte said. “I am grateful to those who worked hard to develop a framework for operating within tight circumstances next year.”
JCC trustees passed the budget on Tuesday.
Full-time New York resident tuition will increase by $80 per semester, or $160 per year, to $5,200. The out-of-state tuition rate will be $10,400 per year.
Furthermore, the budget reflects a 20% reduction in the New York state aid per full-time equivalent (FTE), a 10% reduction in FTE projections and reduced occupancy in the residence halls (at the Jamestown campus) to comply with health mandates.
Approximately $1.7 million in personnel cuts are included in the budget.
Michael Martello, vice president of administration, said, “While we have been fortunate to have CARES federal stimulus funding, continued support from our county sponsors, and additional funding from the JCC Foundation, we also needed to make difficult cuts in personnel, fringe benefits and other non-personnel expenses to balance the budget.”
DeMarte provided more detail on cuts in personnel.
“It’s a significant number when you add up positions that were new and we’re not going to fill, and were vacant and we’re not going to fill,” he said.
He said employee hours will be reduced, rather than let people go.
“They will still be here, they just won’t necessarily be here the normal 40-hour work week,” DeMarte said. “It will be a 32-hour work week.
“So when you add all of that up, and you add to it employees who gave salary and retirement give-backs, it affects almost everybody,” he continued, noting some staff have given back vacation time as well. “Almost everybody has given up something to help us deal with the situation we’re in. It speaks very highly of the people in the region and the attitude they bring here, it’s refreshing.”
DeMarte said JCC employees’ attitude is positive.
“The attitude they bring to this is, ‘We’ll get through it; we know it’s an inconvenience and difficult, but we’re going to come out of this,’” he said.
As for projections that community colleges are expected to do well with enrollments this fall, DeMarte said he has heard varying reports regarding that speculation.
“There are predictions that we’re going to be off the charts in enrollment, and predictions that we’ll be below in enrollment,” he said. “I think what’s going to happen here is that we’re going to be close to where we were last year. That’s the hope, so we’ll see what happens.
“There’s still a lot of time to be played out before the fall semester, and it is changing on a daily basis,” he said.
Despite the uncertainty and cuts, DeMarte said programs for students should not be affected.
“The goal here was to minimize the impact to the core of our mission, which is teaching and learning,” he said.
DeMarte added there will be some cuts in support services, including admissions and financial aid help, which will be offered remotely.
DeMarte said a plan has been devised that will allow the campuses to bring back as many as one-third of students to learn in the classrooms.
“What we’ll have is a mix, there will be some in-person courses while there will be some courses offered off-campus at a distance and various combinations of the two,” he said.
Students will be expected to practice social distancing on campus, and classrooms will be cleansed and sanitized between sessions. Masks and hand sanitizers will be made available and students will be asked basic questions about their health prior to returning to campus.
“There’s a lot we have put in place to make sure health and safety are first,” he said.