Trustees Approve College Budget, Maintain Low Tuition
The governing Board of Trustees of Northwest Florida State College has approved a balanced $33,341,509 annual operating budget that maintains the college's tuition rates among the lowest in the state, despite budget challenges.
Following a lengthy discussion, Trustees voted to approve a 2.5 percent tuition increase (two and one-half percent) that will result in about $183 in extra annual cost for a full-time Associate degree student and an additional $279 per academic year for a full-time bachelor's degree student. The college administration had proposed a 5 percent increase in tuition. Trustees chose instead to increase fees by a smaller amount and to reduce the college's contingency budget for the difference.
Starting July 1, college credit classes at NWFSC will cost $100.12 per credit hour for lower division Associate degree courses and $118.59 per credit hour for bachelor's degree upper division courses.
The general operating budget for the college's 2012-13 fiscal year is $33,341,509, a slight increase of $93,185 over the college's current fiscal year. The total college budget in all funds, including construction, student financial aid, auxiliary operations and other categories for 2012-13 is $49,018,687 -- changed from $66,431,676 in 2011-12.
College president Dr. Ty Handy noted during the budget discussion that NWFSC had received about $638,000 less in state funding than it normally would have under Florida's traditional funding model since about $36 million was allocated to nine colleges from among the 28 via special appropriations. "The effect of the legislative process used this year was to subsidize one third of the colleges with state funding from the other two thirds of the colleges." Handy told trustees. "As one of the colleges with the lowest tuition cost per student, we have less flexibility to absorb this impact... resulting in the need to request a modest increase in student tuition and fees."
In other matters, trustees approved an articulation agreement with the University of West Florida that further strengthens the partnership between the two colleges by providing an opportunity for students in the NWFSC Teacher Education baccalaureate degree program to be eligible to receive credit for up to six credit hours as they enter the Master's in Education program at UWF. NWFSC currently offers teacher education bachelor's degree programs in Elementary Education, Middle Grades Science Education and Middle Grades Math Education. Handy cited the collaborative effort as an example for the state in joint partnerships and noted that the two institutions had each recently received $187,000 in a state grant to develop a Hospitality program that will result in an eventual bachelor's degree in Hospitality being offered in the region.
Trustees also approved the long range purchase of a new college enterprise wide computer operations system, the Ellucian Banner product used by colleges across the nation to control finance, registration and all college operational processes. NWFSC spent 18 months researching a system and selected the Banner product at a cost of $7.6 million. Trustees approved a financing plan at a fixed rate of 1.712 percent through Sun Trust Equipment Finance & Leasing Corporation to finance $5 million of the total cost over a 7 year period. The new system will replace a 15-year-old product that had been developed and maintained through a consortium of state and community colleges that is no longer adequate for the needs of the college for the coming decades.
Trustees also voted to select trustee Brian Pennington of Shalimar as the Board's new chair and Paul Foster of Fort Walton Beach as the vice chair.
Organizational changes to the president's office were also approved by trustees including the naming of Cristie Kedroski, current Director of College Advancement and NWFSC Foundation, to the post of Vice President for College Advancement. The college trustees also approved separating the Dean of Students and Athletic Director functions, which had formerly been in a combined position held by the recently retired Mickey Englett, into separate Athletic Director and Dean of Students posts. The college is currently conducting a job search for an Athletic Director and Christine Bishop, the current Dean of Enrollment Services, was named to fill the Dean of Students post in addition to her current enrollment services role. The annual contract for the college president was also amended to comply with new laws related to severance pay and to clarify retirement contributions.
Trustees also approved a retirement resolution honoring the more than 33 years of service of Maxine Randolph of Niceville, who served in variety of roles including most recently Student Services specialist at the college's Fort Walton Beach.