BHC addresses budget shortfall

Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015

Black Hawk College announced today plans to address the budget shortfall resulting from lower than anticipated enrollment and ongoing uncertainty created from the state of Illinois budget crisis. The college had previously stated its approach may involve several phases and would remain flexible enough to adapt to changing economic circumstances.

Dr. Bettie Truitt, president of the college, stated, “The reduction in Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants combined with declining enrollments has created a budget gap in excess of $1.5 million. Phase 1 of our plan addresses the immediate need to correct this.”

State of Illinois funding for Fiscal Year 2016 (July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016) was anticipated to be $7.2 million, or about 22% of total budget needs. Steve Frommelt, vice president for finance and administration said the total projected shortfall “was approximately $9 million.”

Frommelt stated, “If the college does not receive state funding, a second phase of budget reductions will be needed.”

In an email sent to employees on November 6, Truitt shared her concerns about the budget deficit and that the college was developing plans to address it.

Phase 1 implementation will begin in December and include a reduction of 5 faculty and 10 staff positions. Truitt said, “Eliminating positions is a difficult decision and one we don’t take lightly. These are dedicated and valued people and we appreciate their contributions.”

Truitt said the college will request approval of a voluntary termination of employment plan (VTEP) available for employees to the Board of Trustees at its December 17 meeting. The proposed plan provides eligible employees with 10 or more years of fulltime continuous service as of December 1, 2015, with a one-time payment equal to 25% of their current base pay.

The Board of Trustees will also be asked to approve the termination of college financial support for the Illinois Small Business Development Center (SBDC), the International Trade Center (ITC), and the Illinois Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC). This will include five of the ten staff positions to be eliminated. These programs provide counseling to prospective and current businesses in western Illinois.

Truitt said, “The role of community colleges has historically been multifaceted serving many diverse sectors. We still believe that is the case but considering all the financial factors involved, we had to make some difficult decisions in these areas.”

The college is working to find an organization that would be a good fit to host the programs in the future. “The staff who run them provide a great service to our business community and we are hopeful that will continue through another organization.”

Truitt also stated, “Many Illinois community colleges are facing similar budget problems and are working to identify the best ways to address them without negatively impacting the high quality of instruction and services to students. Our mission and purpose has been and will continue to be to provide our students with the highest quality educational opportunities.”