Under a $1.29 billion budget endorsed June 13 by the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities Board of Regents’ Finance Committee, the state’s 12 community colleges will be forced to cut their budgets by a collective $12.5 million next year.
Although the budget, which is 4 percent higher than last year’s, includes an additional $11.5 million in state funding, it still falls short of what is needed for the schools to at least break even, according to CSCU officials. With no further aid apparently coming from the state legislature – something that CSCU President Mark Ojakian had been hoping for – the regents projected a budget deficit of $19.6 million for the 12 colleges this year, up significantly from the $7.9 million shortfall it incurred last year.
Meanwhile, the four state universities overseen by CSCU – including Danbury-based Western Connecticut State – is facing a $7.5 million shortage this year, compared with $906,396 last year.
The system’s community colleges include Norwalk Community College and Bridgeport’s Housatonic Community College.
The full board of regents will vote on the budget at its next meeting on June 20.
Meanwhile, Ojakian’s controversial “Students First” plan to reorganize the 12 community colleges into one statewide community college by the fall of 2023 – which the system estimates would save some $23 million per year – is still very much in play.
Although it failed to gain approval from accrediting agency the New England Association of Schools and Colleges – now called the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) – in 2018, the General Assembly’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis has verified its calculations, an important factor when the plan is resubmitted to NECHE, possibly this year.