Anne Arundel Community College administrators are beginning to tighten a belt they felt they had already cinched to the last hole.
College officials are pondering a $10-per-credit tuition increase next semester, layoffs and elimination of remedial programs and free services for seniors.
New buildings may have to be built with private money and a first-come, first-served policy may be instituted for registration by nextyear.
Community college administrators, operating with virtually the same amount of money as last year, have been told to reduce their$30 million budget by $3.1 million as part of the massive state spending cuts ordered by Gov. William Donald Schaefer.
"It's pretty grim," AACC President Thomas Florestano said. "We have more students and less money. If the economy hits rock bottom, this place would have to look at hard choices. We're not the Naval Academy or St. John's. We start out with $30 million, and we know already that 88 percent is spent on salaries. A cut like this is pretty devastating."
In addition, Florestano said he expects the state to cut more money -- possibly in January.
"We're in it for the long haul," he said. "This isnot something that will go away soon."
Students will be looking at user fees for career programs, and those needing remedial courses in math and English may have to look elsewhere if cuts are made.
The current student tuition of $44 per credit hour would increase to $54. According to Florestano, each $90,000 they have to cut equals $1 in tuition increases. But only $1 million is expected to be generated from tuition increases because of the school's philosophy to serve the community. But that, too, may be changing, Florestano said.
"We have to change the way we do business," Florestano said. "The state has told us to find other ways to survive. Privatization may be a consideration for capital projects. We will have to go to large corporations to build new buildings.
"We're looking at changing our mission."
Staff members may face staggered furloughs based on their salaries. Those with salaries of $75,000 or more would be the first to be furloughed, while those earning $25,000 and under would be the last to be affected.
Vacancies for secretaries and clerical positions are not being filled and staff members have already been told to curtail travel.
The college is also cutting back on materials and supplies.
While the county schools system was asked to cut $5.1 million from its $341 million operating budget, Florestano said County Executive Robert R. Neall has not pressed the college on the $300,000 that would have been the college's share.
Last year, the college was forced to cut expenses by $570,000 at the end of December. The school instituted a hiring freeze, ordered cutbacks in travel and purchases, and sent administrators back to the classroom.
This time, the cutsare accentuated by a flat budget and more students. Florestano said that enrollment has increased by 400 students this fall and that he expects even more in the spring as students look for ways to avoid thetremendous cost of tuition at four-year institutions.
"If it becomes an accessibility issue, we're looking at ways to build up the scholarship fund," said Vice President for Administration Edgar E. Mallick Jr.
"We're not interested in denying access."