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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Community colleges given bigger budget

After years of flat budgets, the Community Colleges of Spokane will have more money next year for salaries and programs.

Students will have a little less.

The CCS Board of Trustees approved an operating budget for 2005-06 of $74.8 million Tuesday morning, an increase of 6.9 percent over last year’s budget.

Officials noted that the increase follows several years of budget cuts or increases like last year’s 0.8 percent. About two-thirds of the increase will go toward salary increases for faculty, staff and administrators that are required under state initiatives and labor contracts.

“It’s not a lot of new money for a lot of new things,” said Gary Livingston, chancellor and CEO of the CCS system. “It’s pretty much a status quo budget.”

The operating budget for CCS – a system that includes Spokane Community College, Spokane Falls Community College and the Institute for Extended Learning – is made up of general fund support from the state, tuition and other sources. It makes up less than half the total budget at the schools, because it does not include building projects, financial aid and other funds.

A quarter of the new money in the operating budget comes from an expected $1.2 million increase in tuition revenues. The Legislature authorized a tuition increase of 5 percent for community colleges. The impact will vary, depending on how many credits a student takes, but a full-time resident student taking 12 credits will pay $754 a quarter, an increase of about $33.

“We don’t like it because we know the burden it puts on students, but it’s important to our ability to provide services,” said Linda McDermott, chief financial officer.

McDermott presented the operating budget at the board’s meeting Tuesday. She told board members that last year’s Legislature had provided funding for an additional 131 full-time students – or full-time equivalents. That doesn’t put a cap on CCS students; it just provides a funding tied to that number. CCS enrollments of more than 13,000 FTEs last year exceeded the state allotment.

Of the 6.9 percent increase in the operating budget, about 4.2 percent will cover salary increases, McDermott said. Staff and administrators, who haven’t had a pay increase since 2001, will see an average raise of 3.2 percent. Faculty members – whose pay has increased under state Initiative 732 – will receive average raises of 1.2 percent.

Funds will also be directed toward the system’s reserves. The board has set a goal of each institution in the CCS system having reserves of 5 percent of the operating budget. McDermott said that by the end of this coming year, reserves would be between 3.5 percent and 4 percent.

The remaining increase will be applied by SCC, SFCC and IEL in a variety of ways, ranging from moving part-time employees to full time, expanding programs, and investing in distance learning and continuing education.

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