Board Highlights March 11, 2010

The Mt. San Jacinto College Board of Trustees heard updates on the budget and green technology programs during its regular meeting on March 11, 2010.

Becky Elam, Vice President of Business Services, told the board that the state and local economic picture is not likely to improve for the next two to three years. Property tax and enrollment fee revenue may not meet projections this year resulting in further budget cuts for MSJC. The cost of health insurance is expected to go up by 13 percent. State funding reductions will continue to pose challenges for the state’s community colleges, including MSJC.

The MSJC Budget Development Committee identified areas in which the District could save money. Those plans included a 5 percent reduction to all departments for 2009-10. Those reductions will remain in place for 2010-11. Spending reductions have helped MSJC save $2 million this year, but another $700,000 in savings must be identified to maintain a balanced budget in the current year.

MSJC will use the Chancellor’s Office apportionment data along with the state’s upcoming May revision information to determine if further budget reduction will be required for the upcoming 2010-11 fiscal year, which begins July 1. Budget reduction strategies include using salary savings from vacant positions, reducing supply, travel and equipment expenses, identifying revenue-generating opportunities and seeking grant funding.

MSJC will begin offering “green curriculum” in the Fall of 2010, Kristine DiMemmo told the board. DiMemmo is an associate faculty member and the former Instructional Support Coordinator who developed the curriculum.

Students can take 15 units to earn career certificates in the following areas: Sustainable Energy, Solar Photovoltaic Technology, Solar Thermal Technology, Small Wind Energy Technology or Green Collar Manufacturing. Students can also obtain associate degrees in Environmental Studies with an emphasis on water and soil technologies, environmental engineering, ecology or conversation biology.

Trustees decided to postpone a decision to increase parking fees until all five members could be present. Trustee Joan Sparkman was absent.

The board was asked to consider increasing parking fees from $30 to $35 per semester while keeping the same fee of $15 per summer and the $20 Board of Governor’s rate for students who qualify. The District requested the increase in parking fees in order to keep up with rising costs to maintain the accessibility and safety of the parking lots.

Board President Eugene Kadow said parking fees are saved in a special fund and can only be used for the improvements and other costs associated with parking. Trustee Ann Motte said she was not in favor of any increase in fees. Trustee Gwendolyn Schlange said she doesn’t want to increase fees, but that it is necessary to keep the campus parking lots maintain. If the parking lots are not regularly maintained, Ms. Schlange said she fears the District will incur more costs in the future to repair damage.

 Superintendent/President Schultz said an increase would affect about 50 percent of the students, as half of the students qualify for the $20 Board of Governor’s rate.