This year’s budget deficit could hit nearly $1.5 million this year due to an enrollment shortfall, according to one administration official.
Vice President for Finance Tom Axtell originally projected a $960,000 deficit to begin the year, he told TKS. But an enrollment shortfall of nearly two dozen students, mostly expected transfer students, may increase that figure by up to $500,000 by Axtell’s estimation.
The loss of expected tuition revenue from those students and auxiliary costs that were budgeted to accommodate them both contributed to the increased budget deficit.
The budget must be balanced by the end of the fiscal year in mid-2014, and according to President Teresa Amott, the strategy for chipping away at the deficit throughout the year has not changed.
“As the year goes by, we make decisions about what we can defer and what we can cut back,” Amott said. “And if an employee of the college leaves, we ask the questions, ‘Do we need to replace them at all? Do we need to replace them right away?’ It’s essentially what we do every year.”
When asked if the recent departures from the Educational Studies Department were part of that strategy, Amott said there was no connection, stressing that it pertains mostly to staff positions. According to her, the college is not yet seeking Educational Studies replacements because the job market for faculty members “is not active year-round.”
“We would not look to faculty lines for budget savings,” Amott said.
Searches to replace former professors Jason Helfer and Stephen Schroth, who both resigned over the last two months, have not yet been approved. The one job opening in Educational Studies listed on the Knox website will replace Assistant Professor Kelton Williams, who is stepping down at the end of the year.
Amott referred to the main strategy as the “Axtell protocol,” in which he will sit down with budget managers every quarter to see what savings they have been able to accumulate, mainly from delaying or avoiding certain expenses.
Opportunities to renegotiate contracts with vendors also offer a chance to make some savings throughout the year, Amott said.
But overall, Amott said this year’s deficit cutting will be like “classic belt-tightening.”
“It is well within the range of cost cutting we’ve had to do in the past,” Amott said. “I don’t have any new tricks up my sleeve.”
Per usual, the college will end the fiscal year with a balanced budget. If the cost savings added up throughout the year are not sufficient to close the gap, administrators will seek Trustee approval to dip into a section of the endowment.