Monday, March 28, 2016

Carl Albert State College Wrestling with Budget Cuts

With the massive budget cuts hitting the State of Oklahoma, Carl Albert State College (CASC) is having to deal with how to keep the college operating.

President Garry M. Ivey explained the budget appropriations for CASC are down 12.53 percent already this year (FY 16 which covers July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016).

Ivey said, “We have been able to absorb over $825,785 this year by being very frugal, but with additional cuts coming as this year ends and in FY 17 (beginning July 1, 2016), we are going to have to look at some drastic measures in order to stay within a balanced budget.”

Ivey continued, “To absorb costs we have put in place a campus-wide budget reduction plan that began months ago. At the beginning of FY16 we cut discretionary funds by one half, and as of January we eliminated discretionary funds. We have restricted travel to only allowed with authorization from the President, implemented a campus energy management plan, and we have not filled positions as people left for whatever reason. Now we are faced with the need to make even harder decisions.”

CASC is primarily funded by two sources. One is appropriations from the state, and the other is tuition and fees.

“Our appropriations have steadily gone down over the past years. Regarding tuition, we have gone up some each year, but those increases are capped by the state at a certain percentage, therefore our increases in tuition and fees are minimal compared to other institutions and other states,” Ivey said.

He continued, “The bottom line is we can’t continue to operate at the level we have over the past several years based on the budget crisis in Oklahoma. We do have some funds that are earmarked for specific areas such as campus maintenance and improvements, but that money can’t be shifted to other areas. Then of course we have some programs that are run with grant funds, so that too is money we can’t use any other way. Gifts to the foundation are also protected from general use.

“The employees at Carl Albert have worked diligently to help us watch our budget. In addition, we have seen a slight upturn in our enrollment for this semester. We are going to do whatever we have to do to continue to offer our students an excellent education. Every higher education institution in Oklahoma is having to find ways to keep the doors open. We are saddened by the reality of the situation, but we will do what we have to do to stay viable in this community.” 

Ivey concluded, “The CASC Board of Regents has approved a reduction in force (RIF) policy as well as a retirement incentive procedure, therefore we are facing those areas as ways to keep the college going forward. As we move ahead we will continue to hope the budget woes will turn around and we can get back on firmer ground, but right now that end isn’t in sight.”

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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