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First in Series of Community Discussions on Fiscal Year 2000 Budget for College

Fred Schnur and Steven Weinberg give a thorough review of past budget trends, future needs and the financial outlook of the College.

Teachers College has increased its investments in academic programs and facilities while making great strides toward eradicating a deficit. Now, it is time that the College look ahead and plan for future budget needs, said Fred Schnur, Vice President for Finance and Administration.

Schnur and the Director of Budget and Planning, Steven Weinberg gave a room full of campus administrators, faculty, staff and students a thorough review of past budget trends, future needs and the financial outlook of the College. While the discussion was very upbeat as the College has made great strides with greater investment in such areas as academic programs, technology and the physical plant and a reduction in tuition growth, Schnur and Weinberg cautioned that there was much more that needed to be done to respond to the many needs of the College. Top priorities for the budget for the upcoming fiscal year (FY) 2000 and beyond include:

· Reducing dependency on tuition revenues
· Facilities renovation
· Increasing financial aid
· Investing in technology
· Addressing concerns about classroom and office space
· Improving services
· Investing in professional development
· Increasing budget flexibility

Weinberg was pleased to report a few scheduling improvements for the FY 2000 budget cycle that will allow for additional time to respond to the budget call and review submissions. The FY 2000 budget calendar also provides for more opportunities for communicating critical budgetary issues to the TC community in a timely manner. In early March, a series of community meetings are scheduled with faculty, staff and students to discuss the preliminary budget. There will be another round of community meetings before the final budget is submitted to the Trustees for final review and adoption in May, 1999.

Goals of the FY 2000 budget include investments to support the College's mission and to budget responsibly in order to continue the four-year trend of budget surpluses which have reduced the deficit from $3.3 million to under $2 million. This was accomplished during the same period that the rate of tuition increases were reduced from 6.1 percent in academic year 1994-95 to 4.9 percent in academic year 1998-99.

This financial strength and the need to compete effectively are two of the determining factors for the Administration's plans to transition the College from traditional annual budgeting to budget planning over a multi-year period. To do that, the College must plan, prioritize and most important-spend only what is budgeted.

Weinberg expressed optimism that the College will be capable of making comprehensive investments using a multi-year budgeting format that would address many of its critical needs through its endowment, Capital Campaign and ability to secure tax exempt financing. He added that his office would be responsible for developing a financial plan that is (1) responsive to the College's master planning, the Departments' 5-Year Plans and enrollment planning, and, (2) fiscally responsible.

Throughout the discussion, Schnur and Weinberg emphasized the importance of communicating short- and long-term budget planning to the TC community-whether it be a large gathering of the community as a whole or with smaller groups of administrators, faculty or staff.

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