Budget, NEA Agreement and Leases Approved by Trustees
East Central College trustees approved an $18.3 million general operating budget for the new fiscal year that begins July 1. That represents a decrease of 2.84 percent in the general fund over the 2015 budget.
In presenting the budget to board members at their June 15 meeting, Phil Pena, vice president of finance and administration, noted that the development of the budget for fiscal year 2016 required balancing the needs of students and the community versus revenue growth.
The college derives over 98 percent of its revenue from three sources: tuition and fees, state aid, and local tax revenue. “In putting together this budget we assume an increase in state aid, but little to no growth in local tax revenues and tuition and fee revenue to be down,” Pena stated. “In addition, enrollment trends indicate no growth for the coming academic year.”
Tuition and fees account for 34 percent of the total budget.
Most students at East Central College will not see a tuition increase for the coming year following the implementation of a two-tier tuition model approved by trustees in April. Students in four career-technical programs at East Central College will pay more tuition this fall, due to the higher cost of operating those programs.
Tier 1 is the same tuition structure currently in place: $76 per credit hour for in-district students; $111 per credit hour for out-of-district students; $168 per credit hour for out-of-state students; and $181 per credit hour for international students.
Tier 2 is a higher tuition for precision machining, industrial engineering technology, nursing and culinary arts classes. Tier 2 courses will cost $95 per credit hour for in-district students and $139 per credit hour for out-of-district students. Out-of-state students will pay $210 per credit hour with the rate for international students set at $226. The tier 2 tuition only applies to classes in the programs; students would still pay the base, or Tier 1, rate for general education courses.
Pena noted that despite the additional money generated from tuition for the higher tier classes, a projected four percent drop in enrollment will limit the amount of new revenue available in the general fund.
State aid accounts for 30.2 percent of the total operating revenue for ECC. Pena stated that the 2016 budget projects a three percent increase in state aid. This year state aid accounted for more than 28 percent of ECC’s total operating revenues.
Little or no growth is planned for local tax revenue. The 2015 assessed valuation increased 3.1 percent over 2014, keeping the rate ceiling at the maximum authorized levy of $0.37. Local revenue represents the largest source of revenue for the college at 34.4 percent which is up slightly from the current fiscal year.
The college has 200 full-time employees. All of them will receive a 2.75 percent salary increase.
For the fourth consecutive year the state retirement system will not raise the mandatory contribution rate. Contribution rates still stand at 14.5 percent for faculty and salaried staff and 6.86 percent for support staff.
Salaries and benefits account for the largest share of expenses for the college, totaling 76 percent of general fund spending in the upcoming fiscal year. The 2016 budget also projects utility costs to increase 2.8 percent and a five percent hike in medical insurance costs.
In addition to the general operating fund, the college has four other funds necessary for college operations which brings the total working budget to $39 million. The college restricted programs fund has expected revenue of over $1.3 million for next fiscal year. It contains money from credit hour fees that are used exclusively for the purpose for which they were generated. Another fund is used exclusively to retire the college’s long-term debt and the revenues generated from local property tax collection and is set at $1.5 million. The auxiliary services fund supports college operations such as the cafeteria and bookstore and projects more than $2.4 million in revenue for the upcoming year. Government restricted programs which include students grants and loans total over $15.3 million for fiscal year 2016.
NEA Agreement Ratified and Approved
East Central College trustees dealt with a number of personnel-related items at their June 15 meeting.
Board members approved an agreement with the ECC National Education Association, the official collective bargaining representative for full-time faculty members employed by the college.
“There were some challenges since this was the first time through the collective bargaining process for us,” noted college president Jon Bauer. “We started meeting in February and worked together to write this first contract. Last week we came to a tentative agreement which was presented to the faculty.”
Dennis Pohlmann, president of the ECC-NEA, noted that this was a positive first step. “There are a lot of improvements to our working conditions,” Pohlmann stated. “Neither side got all that we wanted which is a testament that we have a fair arrangement. It gives us something to start with for next year.”
There are 43 full-time faculty members who pay NEA dues. The faculty ratified the one-year contract by a vote of 26-1.
Highlights of the 25 articles in the agreement include improvements to overload rates, summer teaching rates, and a number of elements that incorporate existing practice put into the contract.
President’s Contract Extended
The contract of Dr. Jon Bauer, college president, was extended through June 30, 2018. Bauer is completing his third year as president at ECC.
Board President Jim Perry praised Bauer’s leadership, expertise, and his commitment to the college’s mission of providing quality educational programs and services, serving those who come to ECC with a range of preparation and ability, enhancing the college’s commitment to continuous quality improvement, and making decisions informed by data.
“Our consistent, superior audit reviews, budgeting, and strategic planning have been able to put into motion a plan for future success,” Perry said. “President Bauer continues to be an effective spokesperson for the college in our service region and across the state.”
“I am deeply grateful to serve as president, and appreciate the confidence shown by the board by taking this action,” Bauer stated. “I look forward to working with the trustees, faculty, staff, students, and the community over the next three years as we strive to make East Central an exemplary college for our region.”
Other Personnel Matters
In other personnel matters, trustees accepted several resignations and approved the employment of three individuals. The re-employment of 53 full-time members of the professional staff for fiscal year 2016, as well as adjunct instructors for the summer session, was also authorized.
Steffani McCrary was hired as an academic advisor in career services. After earning an associate degree from ECC, McCrary went on to Missouri Baptist University to earn a bachelor’s degree in business administration. She obtained her MBA from Columbia College. Since 1999 McCrary has been the career and technical education coordinator for the Sullivan School District. Prior to that she was a business technology instructor in the Hazelwood School District for two years. For the past several years she has also been an adjunct instructor at ECC and Missouri Baptist University.
Trustees also approved the appointment of Jessica Van Leer as nursing instructor in Union. Van Leer was a patient care associate at Mercy and since 2009 has worked as a pediatric clinical nurse at Mercy Kids. She earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Maryville University and a master’s in nursing from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
The new enrollment services coordinator at ECC in Rolla is Rachael Karr. Since 2010 Karr has served as program coordinator for a mentoring program at Prevention Consultants of Missouri. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Central Missouri.
The resignations of Brady Griffith, student activities coordinator, and Robin Kluesner, accounting instructor, were approved.
Leases and Professional Service Contracts
Members of the East Central College board of trustees authorized college officials to renew existing leases for four off-campus locations for the coming year. The action came at the board’s June 15 meeting.
The amount paid to lease a facility in Sullivan will increase $2,028 starting July 1. The annual rate paid to Central Markets for the 5,800 square foot facility will total $23,904 for the new fiscal year. The last increase in rent for that site was in 2013.
The lease for over 10,000 square feet of space at Four Rivers Career Center in Washington decreases $2,778.30 for the upcoming year with the college paying $77,990.70 to the Washington School District. ECC will no longer use a 378 square foot classroom. The agreement with the Rolla School District for 8,140 square feet of space at Rolla Technical Center will also remain the same at $145,530.
There is also no increase in the cost for the facility on North Bishop Avenue in Rolla that ECC leases from Columbia College for $94,800. That 7,900 square foot building was remodeled in the fall of 2013 to accommodate ECC’s nursing program and general classroom needs. It opened in January 2014.
Trustees also approved the renewal of four professional service agreements for fiscal year 2016. Legal services will again be provided by Tueth, Keeney, Cooper, Mohan & Jackstadt, P.C. of St. Louis.
The firm of KPM of Springfield (formerly Davis, Lynn & Moots) will continue to provide auditing services for the college and the ECC Foundation. Cost of the audit for fiscal year 2015 will total $45,000.
Security services will again be provided by Securitas. Rates for the upcoming fiscal year will remain at $13.87 per hour for a security officer or supervisor and $20.81 per hour for overtime.
New Firm will Serve as Employee Benefits Consultant and Broker of Record
J.W. Terrill of St. Louis will serve as the college’s employee benefits consultant and broker of record for the next three years effective August 1, 2015.
Eleven firms submitted proposals. A committee comprised of 24 ECC employees representing all employee groups met to develop the selection criteria and define expectations. Four firms interviewed with the committee. That group recommended J.W. Terrill due to their experience in working with higher education institutions and the guidance they can provide in complying with healthcare reforms, wellness education, and benefits administration.
The college utilizes a consulting firm to provide advice concerning group benefits, solicit bids from carriers, and assist when there are problems or issues concerning coverage for employees. J.W. Terrill will be paid $30,000 per year, subject to annual approval.
Bond Refinancing Plan Moves Forward
Trustees approved a resolution appointing Thompson Coburn LLP as bond and disclosure counsel for the issuance of the general obligation bonds (Series 2006 and 2008) to be refinanced.
“The climate is right to realize some savings now,” noted Dr. Jon Bauer, ECC president. George K. Baum and Company will prepare and distribute a preliminary official statement to offer the refunding bonds for sale with the terms of the refinancing and issuance of the bonds to be approved at the board’s July 22 meeting.
Due to the scheduling of upcoming board meetings, trustees also pre-authorized purchases that will need to be made with funds from state vocational enhancement grants prior to the start of the fall semester August 13. Authorization was also given for purchases to be made with funding from the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant.
In his report to trustees, Bauer noted that over 1,100 students are taking summer classes, a five percent drop from last summer.
“For the fall semester, we are encouraged by the number of first-time students already enrolled. That number is up almost ten percent,” stated Bauer. “We are seeing an increase in students transferring to ECC for the first time as well as students who did not attend this past spring but are coming back to enroll in classes this fall.”
Bauer also discussed visits he has started to make to school districts in the service region to meet with superintendents and high school principals in exploring how the college can work more closely with them to better serve their students. “On this ‘listening tour’ I want to hear about the concerns that they have,” Bauer said. “I want to know about some things we can be doing more collaboratively and how we can have our faculty members and staffs work together.
“Already some themes have emerged,” he said. “They are very interested in college readiness. They want to make sure their students are graduating and able to go on to college – whether at East Central or some other college. They want to improve their college going rates.” Bauer stated that school officials also mentioned the desire to expand in the area of dual credit classes. “I look forward to taking their ideas and questions and developing plans on how we can better serve students in the region,” noted Bauer.
Bauer also mentioned being contacted by city officials in Hermann and a subsequent meeting with them in May regarding the possibility of offering classes in that community. “This is an initiative that is of interest to the education and business community in Hermann,” he said. “I will be meeting with them again to explore the challenges and determine if there is the critical mass to make this feasible. It’s an interesting location for us with perhaps the opportunity to grow enrollment and possibly offer some unique programming there.”
Hermann is not in the college’s taxing district but is within ECC’s service region.