“An unfortunate convergence of circumstances has led us to this action,” said Dr. John Schwenn, president, adding that three vacant staff positions will not be filled.
“We projected a five percent decline in enrollment due to a change in our admission standards, but our actual enrollment for fall is down eight percent,” he said. “On top of that, we’ve been ordered to reduce our state allocation by three percent and to hold back an additional two percent that may have to be returned.”
This reduction is in addition to two percent already held back from the appropriation at the beginning of the fiscal year.
“The state allocation is down for a variety of reasons, including a decreased tax digest and increased costs for health care, retirement programs and unemployment,” he said. “The total university system budget has been amended to cut $54.4 million; three percent of our allocation is $411,000. If we are called upon to return an additional two percent to the state, that would cut our allocation by more than $685,000.
“Our decrease in enrollment has resulted in a $455,000 loss in operating funds; we hope to add a few more students for half-semester classes that start in October,” he said. “The state has directed that budget cuts are to have minimal impact on students and that we should expect the cuts to be permanent.”
One furlough day a month has been scheduled for October and November. A third may be added in January, if needed.
“We are pleased that we can achieve needed cuts through furlough days and that we don’t have to resort to a reduction in force at this time,” he said.
Dalton State administrators estimate that as many as 200 students were denied admission this year that would have been admissible a year ago.
“We have implemented new higher admission standards ,” said Dr. Jodi Johnson, vice president for enrollment and student services.
The changes prevent prospective students requiring remediation in all three areas of reading, writing and math from enrolling at Dalton State.
“As a result, we have a smaller, but better-prepared class this fall,” Dr. Johnson said. “The students admitted face better prospects for success in college and graduation, and that’s a good thing, even though it does mean that we suffer a loss of operating funds.”
“The budget news isn’t all bad,” Dr. Schwenn said. “Included in the university system’s FY2014 budget is $2.1 million to equip our science building, ground for which will be broken this fall.”