The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Board sees plans to prepare for potential cuts from state

By Shelly Williams/editor-in-chief

This past month, chief financial officer Mark McClendon presented a plan to TCC addressing the 5 percent statewide reduction costs ordered by Gov. Rick Perry for 2009-2011.

TCC’s budget cut will total an estimated $5.2 million for the school to meet its balanced budget mandated by law.

McClendon said that the district will reduce operating expenses by 3 percent, saving about $1.1 million by implementing a hiring freeze, saving approximately $700,000 for 2009-2010. For 2010-2011, the district plans to decrease operating expenses by another 3 percent, saving an estimated $1.2 million, and create a change in faculty hiring, saving about $900,000.

Other parts of the plan will include an increase in class sizes for the fall semester, a reduction in course section offerings and filling only critical non-faculty positions, McClendon said. Current temporary full-time positions will be replaced by adjunct faculty.

“However, this is only a plan today. It is not a reality,” he said. “Colleges and universities, people especially in finance, have to prepare for something that seems possible.”

McClendon said based on the current economic conditions, TCC has made a plan, but that it doesn’t necessarily mean it will happen. The final decision will be made by the state.

“People have a misconception. The plan is not to cut your entire revenue. It is to cut the appropriations that the state provides you,” he said. “You have to be conservative in what you’re going to do, and you also have to understand that this is just a plan. We haven’t been asked by the state to do it. We have a feeling it could happen, and there’s a high likelihood, but we have to have a plan in order. If they told us to do it at the last minute, we couldn’t do it.”

McClendon said that an organization must follow the letter of the law, and TCC’s budget falls under this. The reductions, regarding hiring, are in the hands of campus presidents.

“Campus presidents would be told that these are the guidelines that we can work with, this is the number,” he said. “You have to work to come up with the best possible combination to satisfy your client market — which is our students. Will there be changes? There may be, but right now it’s a maybe, it’s not a real. So we have a plan, and I know that everybody would be concerned, and it’s just a reality that Gov. Rick Perry has asked us to do. And we as an organization must follow that.”

McClendon said that when it came to changes based on construction and instruction, decisions came down to a question of safety.

“If renewal and replacement could be changed, the question is: Would you rather have more instructors or would you rather have an organization that has a lack of security because you have a hole in the roof?” he said. “I cannot answer that question.

“Also, can you stop a piece of construction? Absolutely, you can stop construction, but it would end up costing you more. So we’d have to go back to the good people of Tarrant County and say, ‘Would you be willing to pay 15 or 20 percent more to stop that construction and then take it on again in the future?’ Budget cuts are a reality. There’s just no easy way to take it, but you have to make a plan that more or less hits all the structures.”

McClendon said that there were three aspects to consider — safety, environmentally well-kept structures and labor to support and maintain the structure.

“If we cut back on the support, you have to ask, will people accept restrooms or laboratories that were unkempt?” he said. “We have to have the full scope. We’ve made a plan, we’ve looked at the possibilities, and we’ve counseled it to the area presidents.

“I can guarantee you that it’s on the top of their minds — the welfare of their students, how they can make a balance and what they can do with the resources they have. We cannot change the resources. That is a fixed number, so we have to work the process, and right now we just have a plan.”

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