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Budget Crunch 2003 - 2004: Putting the College First

What it all comes down to is making some tough choices to present the College's Board of Trustees with a balanced budget for next year.

In both a standing-room-only meeting and a recent memo from the Acting President, it has been publicly stated that in order to preserve the College's academic programs, ensure that the teacher certification programs meet state requirements, maintain core support services, preserve current health benefits and avoid staff layoffs, sacrifices and strategic decisions need to be made.

"Everyone needs to put the good of the college ahead of its effect on themselves or their department," said Fred Schnur, Vice President of Finance and Administration at the March 10th open meeting.

In both instances, the current budget situation is being presented as convergence of internal and external pressures. Insurance was one of the main culprits, the rising costs of insurance, both property insurance that increased by 225 percent after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and health insurance which increased 10 percent higher than budgeted for, have impacted the budget greatly.

Other factors were the rising costs of the non-academic retirement plan and post retirement medical benefits. The last factor stated was tuition remission. This benefit, which is a strong attraction for some employees at the College, has increased by 37 percent.

The budget is the toughest one in past eight years, but the problem being encountered is not unique to Teachers College, stated Schnur. Many other colleges and universities in the private not-for-profit sector are facing similar choices. But there is a consensus among the people working on the budget that making strategic sacrifices and adopting a balanced budget can face the current challenge.

While there were no actual stated changes in benefits, expenditures or incomes presented, at the time of the meeting, Professor John Saxman, a member of the Faculty Executive Committee working on the budget, said that the group looking into to balancing the budget is "operating with the greatest integrity."

Saxman said that while such sacrifices need to be made to continue supporting the current offering of academic programs, "no one around the table is suggesting that faculty, students or staff should shoulder the burden of how we reduce expenditures."

In her memo dated March 14, 2003, Acting President Darlyne Bailey reiterated the current budgetary challenge. "Through a painstaking process spanning several months, we are bringing our projected revenues and expenses into balance. In doing so, our goal has been to respect the interests of all the members of our community."

Bailey remarked that while the current challenge has been met, that there is more work to be done. One of the initiatives being undertaken is the creation of the Long-Range Budget Planning Committee. In the meantime, a watchful eye will be turned towards major expenditures, enrollment and other major sources of revenue.

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