- Letters to Editor
By ZEYNAB DAY
The Strategic Budget Reallocations task force finalized its recommendations for the 2013 fiscal year during the summer break. Eastern’s Board of Regents unanimously approved the plan on June 16 along with the budget for the 2014 fiscal year.
The talk of reallocations along with the decision to restructure staffing and programming were hot topics on campus as the 2013 academic year drew to a close.
Eastern’s former president, Doug Whitlock appointed a 22 member Strategic Budget Reallocation Task force with representatives from all areas on campus. The initial plan called restructuring of 10 percent of the university budget for a total amount of $23 million to be reallocated throughout the 2014 and 2015 fiscal years.
Janna Vice, chairwoman of the reallocations task forces said the task force spent a great deal of time reviewing feed back from students, faculty and staff prior to finalizing their plans. Feedback the task force reviewed included 145 emails and 200 anonymous submissions to a survey provided by Institutional Research in the 2014 spring semester.
To reach the $23 million dollar goal the board evaluated every aspect of the university and looked for ways changes could be implemented reallocating funds for use under new President Michael T. Benson’s administration.
According to the Strategic Budget Reallocation Task Force Report approximately $19.7 million has be identified for reallocations by the 2015 fiscal year. The report states most of the funds will be available by this fiscal year.
The budget reallocation represented 8.3 percent of the 2013 fiscal budget of $235,769,830, which included financial fixed costs, financial aid and tenure-track faculty and represented 15 percent of the budget when not including those fixed costs.
In a budget report for the Board of Regents, which was introduced on June 16, reallocation funds were included in the Maintenance and Operating portion of the budget report while awaiting redistribution.
Changes were made to the administrative and faculty arms of the university through restructuring and reevaluating successful programs, as well as identifying which programs could be restructured to optimize budget efficiency.
With the approval of former president Doug Whitlock, the reallocations task force implemented the Voluntary Buyout Program, Staff Reduction in Force Program and the Enhanced Retirement Transitions Program to help aid reducing faculty and staff.
According to the Strategic Budget Task Force Report there were a total of 202 staff reductions including; 130 because of the Voluntary Buyout Program, 16 for the Enhanced Retirement Transition Program, and 10 as a result of the Staff Reduction in Force Program. Additionally, 46 position vacancies account for $8,309,385 in salary saving and $3,576,825 in benefit saving for a total of $11,886,210.
The faculty tuition waiver policy implemented by the reallocation task force limits employees to a maximum of 6 credit hours per term and 18 hours per year. This is a reduction from the 24 credit hours per year previously allotted and will save the university an estimated $352,000.
Along with cuts, increases were also implemented in various areas on campus.
As many student and faculty have noticed when purchasing parking permits for the 2014-15 academic, permit registration fee was raised from $30 to $60. The estimated revenue increase of $538,800 was also included in the reallocations budget.
Model school tuition was also increased by $500 for the 2013-2014 academic year and an additional $500 the following academic year.
Other administrative and departmental changes included the creation of the Center for Appalachian Regional Engagement and Stewardship (CARES) through the merger Career Services and Co-Op offices, merger of the Regional Stewardship, Kentucky Institute for Public Governance and Civic Engagement, and Regional Extension Agent Program.
Regent Janet Craig said the reallocations process is ongoing and will continue to develop as the university looks for ways to better serve it’s students, faculty and staff.
“Although we’ve received the report, the work is not done, and the reallocation process will remain open as the university continues to explore cost saving measures and works with the new president,” Craig said.