north easterNew dorm at Northeastern Junior College will help with growing enrollment

north easterNew dorm at Northeastern Junior College will help with growing enrollment,STERLING — With Northeastern Junior College president Lance Bolton predicting a fifth consecutive year of increasing enrollment next year, the need for the new residence hall is clear. The NJC Advisory Council toured Blue Spruce Hall after their regular meeting on Tuesday. Construction is moving along and the building is expected to be complete by the end of May. During the Council meeting Bolton recognized three members whose terms have come to an end after serving eight years, Jim Yahn, Loretta Davidson and Steven Meier. He also spoke about the budget. I think weve hit the bottom and were on our way back up, Bolton said. Thanks to some changes made by the Colorado Community Colleges System (CCCS) presidents, to the way the system does it funding, NJC is not looking at as large of cut as originally expected. While we were planning for a budget decrease of about $1 million in the coming year, what were going to experience will be considerably less than that, he said. When the legislature and the governor come together and decide on an amount to fund higher education, a certain percentagenorth eastern health board of that goes to the community college system and from there it is divided out to the individual colleges. Its at that point some changes have been made. Using the standard formula NJC would be cing a $1,311,576 cut in the coming year. If the CCCS had just taken the cut and divided it out proportionately by full-time equivalencies to each college, NJC would have experienced a $761,212 cut. However, the new formula that was adopted gives NJC a cut of $340,893. The magnitude of the cut for higher education is the same, Bolton said. What happened among the presidents is that the urban colleges agreed to take less funding and to provide more funding for the rural colleges. This was a tremendous blessing for the rural colleges because we were cing a very difficult year next year. Rising tuition rates and the ability to use lots of adjunct culty have allowed the urban colleges do relatively well compared to the rural colleges over the last couple of years. I was really proud of our group of presidents coming together and a change like this because this change went through with no dissent, no rancor, not one word spoken against this change, Bolton said. Were getting a substantial cut, but we were prepared for a lot more. He showed a budget comparison for FY2011 and FY2012, which included a 10 percent increase in tuition. NJC sees about $4.5 million in tuition and state funding of about $6.2 million. For total revenues next year theyre looking at about $10.7 million. The current year shows a budget surplus of about $625,000. Our goal was to put away enough money in the bank this year to handle the deficit that we would run next year, Bolton said. Thats how we were going to handle the $1 million cut, is we were going to put money in savings this year and next year we were going to expend it on operating and then by FY2013 we were hoping to be back level. He said NJCs reserves can go from about 8 percent to about 11 percent with that $625,000 addition. The state board requires a minimum of six percent for each college. In talking about the reserve, Bolton said I expect its going to stay right at that 11 (percent) level for the next few years. Bolton also noted in FY2012, the one-time savings for PERA funding comes off, so they have a north easterNew dorm at Northeastern Junior College will help with growing enrollment$157,000 additional cost item there. Also, health insurance rates are going up 10 percent next year. The community college presidents voted unanimously at the last meeting that the colleges would pick up the cost of the health insurance premium increases. That means the staffs paychecks will not go down next year; wages will stay the same. Also, next year NJC will pay $176,449 in information technology costs. Over the last few years the CCCS office has paid some of the IT costs for NJC and other rural colleges, but theyre handing that charge back to the colleges now. NJCs total expense is up about $400,000. Bolton said the auxiliaries, which include the bookstore, cafeteria and housing, run profitably and they expect that they will be able to subsidize the general fund to about $300,000 and NJC would have a budget surplus of $323,000. However, the surplus wont really be that large because the first thing theyre going to do with the surplus next year is return operating budgets. Those have been cut significantly, operating budgets, over the last couple years and we just cant continue to do that, Bolton said Weve really exhausted our supplies in a lot of areas. He also said they need to invest a little bit in professional development. Theyre looking to use somewhere between one-third and one-half of the $323,000 to offer improved operating budgets and professional development budget. Bolton also made some predictions for next year, including an increase in enrollment again. That prediction is based several things, including a 62 percent increase in housing contracts, same-day to same-day comparison. Also, applications are up 10 percent and campus visits are up 15 percent, He said he foresees full dorms next year. Bolton also said he thinks they could see pay raises returning to NJC in the future. In other business, he also mentioned last week NJC did a lock down drill. I thought the college performed exceptionally well, Bolton said. There were two Sterling Police Department officers there to oversee the colleges performance. People did what they should do, Bolton said. I would say in most buildings in the area we were locked down within 90 seconds and within 10 minutes the drill was over. Its a good sign that were well prepared. Callie Jones: (970) 526-9286; cjones@journal-advocate.com

Construction on Northeastern Junior Colleges new residence hall, Blue Spruce Hall, is coming along. The projected should be completed at the end of May. A special event from 3 to 6 p.m., on Friday, May 6 will include tours of Blue Spruce and food and games in the courtyard outside. (Callie Jones/Journal-Advocate)

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