Northeast State interim president announces budget “corrective action” plan

BLOUNTVILLE, TN (WJHL) – Northeast State Community College’s interim president announced early Wednesday morning what was described as “a corrective action plan” for the college’s 2018 fiscal budget by reducing expenses by about $5 million.

The announcement came via news release and said after an examination of the college’s finances, it was revealed “revenues have not kept pace with expenses” for several years.

The $5 million in reductions includes $2.8 million in cuts to travel, operating and equipment budgets. Interim President James King said in the release that plans are not finalized but “it is unavoidable that reductions to personnel must occur.”

This comes nearly six months after Northeast State announced it was eliminating four full-time positions and was not going to fill 13 vacant positions. This was due to the budget.

Interim president James King is having to clean up quite a mess following Dr. Janice Gilliam’s retirement last month.

“I think what I’m looking at more than anything, the best way to describe what we’re doing is right sizing,” King said.

King says over the past few years expenses have exceeded revenues.

One of the reasons, there were too many faculty members and enrollment has been overprojected for four or five years.

“Instead of realigning the facilty and staff, we dipped into reserves,” he said.

He says another reason for the budget issue is more off campus sites were opened.

News Channel 11’s Karissa Winstead asked King, “do you think too much was built too quickly?”

He responded, “you know I have to admit yes. I think we moved quickly without having the adequate funds to cover it.”

Now, Northeast State is having to cut roughly $5 million from its budget.

$2.8 million has already been cut out of the operating, travel and equipment budgets.

The other approximately $2.2 million will impact employees.

But just how many employees, is still undetermined. He says a decision will be made soon.

“It depends on the salaries of the individuals. It takes a lot of people in lower salaries, less people in higher salaries. So we’re looking at everything,” King said.

King says right now, students will not be impacted.

Student Government Association President, Cooper McCoy, says he’s optimistic for the future.

“Even if we have to make these cuts, that aren’t necissarily desirable, I feel like it’s the best thing to do moving forward for the better of all students on the campus,” McCoy said.

King says off campus sites will remain open for now but he can’t rule out one of them closing in the future.

“I’m not going to sit here and say no. I’m going to say we’re going to look at every one,” he said.

This comes on the heels of a vote of “no confidence” against former President Dr. Janice Gilliam and her recent retirement.

He said there were certain indications that she knew about the budget situation that the school was in.

King was asked, “do you think this was Janice Gilliam’s fault?”

He responded, “it’s just a series of bad decisions by a lot of parties probably.”

News Channel 11 reached out to the Faculty Senate. It sent us this response:

“In response to the information regarding budget cuts across campus, the Faculty Senate is saddened to learn about impending personnel losses, yet we also understand that these cuts are necessary to the institution’s stability.

The Faculty Senate supports President King’s decision to prioritize the college’s mission and focus on students in the face of these budgetary challenges.”

Below is the full release from NSCC.

From Northeast State Community College:

Northeast State Interim President James King announced today that the College is developing a corrective action plan for its 2018 fiscal year budget.

King said an examination of the College’s finances shows revenues have not kept pace with expenses over the past few years, necessitating a budget realignment.

The Tennessee Board of Regents recently approved the College’s fiscal year 2018 budget which includes corrective actions developed jointly with TBR.

The plan calls for roughly $5 million of reductions in the current year’s budget. These include $2.8 million in cuts to the operating, travel and equipment budgets.

As salaries and benefits account for around 75 percent of the College’s total operating budget, it is unavoidable that reductions to personnel must occur. While some of the reductions can occur through natural attrition and leaving positions vacant, additional measures must be taken to reduce personnel costs.

Plans are currently being considered, but nothing is finalized. King said he pledged to keep the campus community apprised as further corrective measures are developed.

King said all budget managers had been requested to re-examine their individual operating/travel/equipment budgets for any possible adjustments to offset reductions in personnel.

For the near term, King said all purchase requisitions would require approval by vice presidents/division heads, the chief financial officer, and the president.

“I know this will cause unease and concern among our employees and in the community, but I want to be transparent about the College’s financial situation and the need to correct it so Northeast State will continue to thrive and serve our students and our region,” King said. “We will remain focused on our mission: educating our students and helping prepare them for the workforce.”

Copyright 2017 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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