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BC's Financial Decisions

With cutbacks and projects, students are wondering how BC makes their financial decisions.

Jacqueline Puglisi

September 19, 2012

With e-mails circulating about employee cutbacks and maintenance projects around campus, BC students are wondering about the school’s financial decisions.

 

BC recently made a number of cutbacks in multiple departments. Five full-time and two part-time positions were affected including the departments of inSPIRE, admissions, IT, security, library and advancement. Several students wondered why cutbacks were made and even one BC alumnus shared his opinion with President Dr. David Olive via a string of e-mails.

    rampage_treestump1
A tree stump left from the recent tree-cutting project on campus

 

Shortly after the announcement of reduction of non-academic staff, BC began a project of cutting down several trees on campus. Also, a few maintenance issues on campus, like a broken door at East River Hall, had not yet been repaired when the trees started to come down. This is when students began to wonder: How can the school have money to hire a tree service with recent cutbacks to several positions on campus and why aren’t other maintenance issues fixed before starting this new project?

 

Sarah Beamer, BC’s financial vice president, was able to answer these concerns. Beamer oversees the facilities, technology, food service, campus store, business operations and human resources departments. She has worked at BC for over three years.

 

The main reason for the reduction of staff was due to missing the enrollment targets for this semester. The goal for this school year was to grow more than the school was able to achieve.

 

“As the numbers started to solidify that first week of classes it became evident that we had missed our budgeted enrollment goals,” said Beamer.

 

This semester 488 traditional students enrolled at BC, compared with 490 last fall. This may not seem like a large change, but the budgeted goal for this semester was 528 students. inSPIRE’s numbers were also off target at 335 full-time equivalent (FTE) students this fall (based on core inSPIRE courses plus general education courses calculated on a full-time equivalency). The budgeted goal for that program was 435 FTE inSPIRE students.

 

Each spring the College Leadership Team, including representatives from all areas on campus, develops a preliminary budget for the following fiscal year which runs from July 1 to June 30. In April the budget is sent to the Board of Trustees for approval. The budget is assessed again early in the fall semester to see if changes are necessary. At that time the college has a better knowledge of fall enrollment numbers and tuition discounts.

 

“This budget revision process enhances the accuracy and value of the projections for the fiscal year,” said Beamer.

 

Beamer said the college has experienced healthy growth, especially with the re-introduction of football. But even with the enrollment numbers of over 50 new football players this semester, BC has still not met its targeted goal. Ticket sales from games have generated some revenue, but not enough to make up for low enrollment.

 

With cutbacks in several departments some students wonder how it will affect their accounts and needs. Beamer said BC is continuing to identify more efficient ways to take care of business with the loss of employees. BC Central has merged student accounts, financial aid and the registrar offices into one location. The staff is able to work together to handle students’ needs.

 

Beamer has worked through this transition at another school and shared her experience. 

 

“After the transitional pains were over, things ran very smoothly and much more efficiently than in the past,” she said.

 

Work-study students have also helped to fill in the gaps where there are fewer personnel. Beamer said BC has very strong work study students helping in several departments.

 

Students are also concerned about maintenance issues on campus, including a broken door at East River Hall since December that has created a security issue for students. Air conditioning issues in the SAC, due to compressors that have been broken since spring semester, allowed temperatures to climb to about 80 degrees. The ER door was fixed on Sept. 10 after Beamer was notified it was still an issue.

 

BC’s facilities maintenance provider, Aramark, is responsible for adhering to the college’s comprehensive program to maintain physical facilities. This includes day-to-day requests, emergency routine maintenance, routine inspections, scheduling major building repairs, and landscaping, as well as helping the college create master plans for 10- to 20-year campus projects.

 

Beamer said the maintenance issues at ER and the SAC were not postponed because of finances. Instead it was due to lack of communication. If the maintenance department is not informed of a problem, it often does not know that a repair is necessary. While costly repairs require the approval of Beamer or the college leadership team, routine repairs and maintenance issues are funded through the maintenance operating budget. 

 

Beamer added that she has an open-door policy for anyone who perceives lingering maintenance issues; she is particularly interested in knowing of safety and security concerns regarding facilities.

 

“If there is a safety issue, we will take care of it,” she said.

 

The tree-removal project on campus may seem like it took precedence over other issues, but the plans actually began in 2008 when Aramark developed a campus landscape report. They found issues with trees planted too close to buildings. Later evaluation revealed some trees were damaged and decayed, pushing priority of the project to this year.

 

The project was funded through the operating budget of the maintenance department and cost less than $10,000.

Comments:

Walter Shroyer

Super work Jackie!

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