Owens likely headed for ‘fiscal watch’ after enrollment dropWritten by Staff Reports | | email@example.com
Faced with a steep drop in enrollment over the past several years, leaders at Owens Community College announced Nov. 10 the school anticipates being placed on “fiscal watch” by the state sometime early next year.
In anticipation, the school announced a five-part recovery plan meant to help stabilize its finances.
The plan includes efforts to increase student enrollment and retention, a proposed tax levy, more analyzation of spending, position eliminations and salary/wage reductions. At this time, it is not known how many positions might be impacted.
Owens already cut $16 million out of its fiscal year 2014 budget, but remains hampered by dropping enrollment, according to a news release.
The school has experienced a 38 percent reduction in enrollment over the past four years. The loss of revenue associated with this in terms of both tuition and state funding continues to put pressure on the college’s finances, resulting in the expected fiscal watch, according to the release.
“We will be challenged to be more entrepreneurial, to share difficult sacrifices, and to move this college forward,” President Mike Bower told the campus community Nov. 10. “We can and will transform this college.”
Based on Ohio law, a college can be placed on fiscal watch for several reasons. In Owens’ case, the trigger is a set of composite ratios that measure fiscal health.
Schools on fiscal watch are required to report finances to the state more frequently and to develop and implement a three-year recovery plan. The status is not official until the Ohio Board of Regents receives Owens’ audit and calculates the official composite ratios and adopts a resolution to that effect, expected to occur during the first quarter of 2015.
However, Bower said Owens is not waiting to begin its recovery plan, which includes initiatives on both the revenue and cost sides of the budget.
The five-part recovery plan is as follows:
1. Revenue enhancement through strategic enrollment growth, retention and completion.
2. Develop new long-term revenue sources, including but not limited to a tax levy proposal.
3. Analyze spending to ensure all spending is focused on recruiting and educating students and implementing a student completion plan.
4. Reduce employment costs through position elimination. The college’s leadership will consult with deans and department heads in the coming weeks to align position eliminations with Owens’ needs moving forward. The college community will be informed on which positions will be included in the reduction in January.
5. Implement across-the board salary and wage reductions among non-bargaining staff beginning Jan. 1, while requesting all bargaining units to make a similar sacrifice. Reductions will range from 2 to 5 percent with smaller reductions for those individuals in lower pay grades and higher reductions not to exceed 5 percent for those in higher pay grades. Bower said he plans to take a 6 percent reduction in salary. In addition, the college will offer the opportunity for employees to take voluntary furloughs.
“We are proposing some very challenging measures while focusing on initiatives which will improve our revenue,” Bowers said. “We will write a story where Owens makes the tough decisions needed to regain fiscal health and builds on a legacy of high-quality education and continue to fulfill our vital role as a leading education provider and economic engine within our communities.”