The Connecticut Board of Regents for Higher Education (BOR) has approved a $1.28 billion operating budget that it says puts the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) – particularly its 12 community colleges – “on a path towards long-term fiscal stability.”
To contend with constrained state appropriations, state-level salary increases, declining enrollment, and reduced bond funds, the budget utilizes cost reductions and some reserves to bridge towards “a more efficient operating model” that the BOR said had recently been validated by a third-party analysis.
Last week the BOR projected a budget deficit of $19.6 million for its community colleges, which include Norwalk Community College and Bridgeport’s Housatonic Community College, and a $7.5 million shortfall at its four state universities, which include Western Connecticut State in Danbury.
However, the BOR said, according to revised estimates from the state comptroller’s office, the cost of fringe benefits will be less than expected; the four universities will save nearly $5 million. The impact on the community colleges was not immediately clear, but it is likely that they will need to cut less than the original $12.5 million.
“The spending reductions are expected to be less,” according to a BOR statement, “but will still entail establishing targets for reductions to personnel and other expenses at each campus and the system office through continuation of a hiring freeze and only refilling critical positions after a thorough evaluation by the system office of the impact on critical services provided to students; personnel reduction, accomplished by limiting overtime, part-time hours, release time, or overload; and other expense reductions across the board.”
The community colleges “will do everything possible to minimize the effect of any budget reductions, with a goal of no impact to students,” the statement added.