By Annah Johnson
The swearing-in ceremony of Daniel Williams and Brandy Lovelady-Mitchell that took place on Feb. 3 was played to begin the Feb. 15 Board of Trustees meeting, as Chairperson David Koetje officially welcomed the new Grand Rapids Community College trustees to the team.
The board began their meeting discussing the appointment of board officers to two-year terms. The group of volunteers that stepped forward to fill the positions during the January work session include Kathleen Bruinsma to Board Secretary, Brame to Board Treasurer, Kathy Crosby to Vice-Chair and Trustee Koetje to Board Chair.
Chief Rebecca Whitman joined the meeting to explain that the state requires the annual appointment to the Public Safety Committee, and request for approval of the selected appointees.
“Their job is to oversee any complaints that would come to the college about the department or a member of the department,” Whitman said.
Christopher Johnson and Mansfield Matthewson as members of staff, and Nikki Banks and Hillary Haney as members of faculty were approved by the board to join the committee.
The February meeting included the approval of the mid-year budget proposed by Lisa Freiburger, GRCC’s Vice President for Finance and Administration. Freiburger noted that a decrease in enrollment has resulted in a $1.9 million decrease in tuition revenue, over an 8% decrease in billing units and job training fees are down $600,000.
“We are looking at an overall decline in our tuition revenue, that is due primarily to the fact that our billing units, our contact hours, are less than originally projected,” Freiburger explained.
Expenses for staffing and faculty are more of a moving target due to the largely unknown variables of enrollment and course offerings. Contingency dollars were allocated to classroom expenses, the largest being $109,000 for updated classroom cadavers. Utilities were increased to $200,000 due to the implementation of COVID-19 equipment and procedures.
A notable transfer of $200,000 was requested to the auxiliary fund for balancing deficits seen in the campus food services and printing due to the effects of the pandemic. Drastic revenue decreases were seen in printing by $455,000, parking by $1.5 million and food service by $850,000.
“We are increasing our net revenue or our net bottom line by approximately $2.2 million,” Freiburger said. “That is a little bit lower than what we talked about in October, primarily because our enrollment is down. But, again, overall that positive is related to the state aid not being cut like we’d initially planned on and then federal money coming in that we’ve talked about in several instances.”
With the decrease in revenue and undercutting in expenses, there seems to be some balance within the budget, leaving the closing of the fiscal year in a positive light.
They are currently working through their third awarded stimulus package.
“It is possible that through that stimulus package that we will be able to recognize lost revenue and regain some of that through use of those federal dollars,” Freiburger said. “The rules around that process are still a bit unclear, so we’re trying to work through those now… We do not know enough at this point in time to be able to incorporate those into any sort of budget amendment.”
Concerning revenue and expenses for the 2021-2022 fiscal year, Freiburger explained the revenue projections of flat enrollment, a property tax increase of 3.5% and a state funding increase of 1.5%. Expense projections include salary increases and the cost of health insurance increased by 3%. A budget proposal based on the awaited state budget plan by the governor will be available in May, which will have more information about operating increases and singular maintenance allocations awarded to the college.
“We have, through the use of primarily federal stimulus dollars, elected to waive all online fees for students because their options for face-to-face classes were so limited,” Freiburger said.
Two monitoring reports were then presented for approval, including strategic plans for completion and transfer, as well as infrastructure and sustainability.
Concerning completion and transfer, Jennifer Knauf of the Business Department and Christopher Johnson offered a presentation that detailed three college action projects (CAP). One includes implementation of the Academic Pathways Model at GRCC, establishing a new model for academic advising and improvement of the transfer process.
Infrastructure and Sustainability issues were addressed by Mansfield Matthewson and Mary Jo Chisholm. The CAP team highlights improving campus safety and security, investigating the current effectiveness of enterprise systems used on campus (Peoplesoft) and looking for improvement opportunities for sustainability efforts across campus.
Pink closed the meeting with a note of the accomplishment in the nursing department that achieved a 100% pass rate on the licensing exams for the second year in a row, as well as the $16 million awarded to the institution over four grants in the last two months.
“Big congratulations in three of those to Julie Parks and our crew over in workforce training,” Pink said, also commending the work of GRCC grant writers to make those awards possible.