Fewer students to walk halls next year
The total budget for the 2010-2011 school year is set at a little over $10 million, approximately one million dollars less than this past school year, according to Director of Finance Kay Nichols.
To make up the difference, further cuts were made among the nonteaching staff, with “as many as seven or eight positions that will be affected,” President Richard O’Hara said. “There are some positions that will not be renewed, some changed from full to part time, [and] some positions that may be combined. We have to be smaller as a staff.”
Because 75 percent of the operating budget goes towards faculty and staff, according to O’Hara, cutbacks were made in the salaries of faculty and staff.
In addition, “There are minor reductions across the board in relationship with lesser enrollment. Many programs were cut five percent or 10 percent, but there wasn’t a general slashing,” Nichols said.
The budget is set for a population of 745 students, with 170 anticipated freshmen.
However, only 155 students are enrolled in the incoming freshman class. Because of this, the school is poised to lose “over $200,000 in tuition revenue,” according to O’Hara.
“If we don’t hit that number of freshmen or the rate of retention is not as high as we’re predicting it will be, then we have to look at other ways to cut back, [like] salary reductions. That’s probably the main thing we have left,” O’Hara said. “You don’t want to affect the quality of educational programs if at all possible.”
The final enrollment numbers will not be known “until day one of school,” O’Hara said. “It’s more of a year round proposition. More people apply later in the year or move here in the summer. In some cases, students need an extended period to make up their minds.”
The administration has made efforts to increase enrollment. O’Hara hopes that financial aid decisions will add to the final enrollment count. “In this economy, one option is to consider giving out more financial aid, going beyond what we had budgeted for. The times demand that we at least look at that as one possibility, but our resources are limited,” O’Hara said.
In addition, “we are taking a more individualized approach to the students,” according to O’Hara. “When we are aware of students who haven’t fully committed to a school we continue to be in touch with them, to encourage them to consider John Carroll.”
Even with difficulties in achieving the minimum number of students, O’Hara is “not surprised that we have to work hard to hit our targets. Many, many schools are experiencing the same and some haven’t made it. I’m optimistic that we’re going to meet the budget.”
The budget was intentionally made to be “conservative,” O’Hara said. “We are not at a time where the budget can include a series of new programs so it has to be in line with the realities of the economic climate, yet we hope without sacrificing services to the students.”
Still, the budget is not final. Nichols said, “The budget is basically a guideline and it’s adjusted as we go. As soon as we produce the detail on the budget, I have a column for adjustments. I keep a running detail of where we are on a daily basis.”
Other purchases in the budget include new energy efficient gym lights, microscopes, T.V. production equipment, an upgrade to the wireless network, Rosetta Stone software, LCD projectors, and sealing and repainting the parking lots, driveways, and sidewalks, according to O’Hara.
O’Hara doesn’t believe the budget difficulties will be “a long term problem,” citing that next year “won’t be quite as drastic as this year. [Still], we can’t go back to an era where you can continue to raise tuition, thinking that everyone will be able to pay. Schools are going to have to be extra careful that dollars are spent efficiently.”
He added, “We’re very sure we’re going to be okay because the school is strong and what it stands for is strong. We have had a very strong faculty and the product remains excellent, but we have to be very wise in how we run the school financially.”
Kate Froehlich can be reached for comment at email@example.com.