HCC requests $22 million in added funds

Spending increase would cover faculty, grants, construction

Building is top priority

No tuition increase in plan

student fees would rise slightly

January 25, 2001|By Jamie Smith Hopkins | Jamie Smith Hopkins,SUN STAFF

Howard Community College officials are seeking an overall spending increase of about $22 million for new faculty, scholarships and the start of an ambitious building campaign.

Last night, HCC's board of trustees approved a $40 million operating budget request for the fiscal year beginning July 1 - $3.4 million more than the current budget. The request will be forwarded to state and Howard County officials.

Trustees, who are asking for a 10.9 percent increase in county funding, do not plan to change tuition costs but will raise student fees slightly.

The trustees have turned in a capital budget request for $21 million, about 11 times more than the $1.9 million capital budget for the current fiscal year. Most of the increase would be spent on an instructional building scheduled to open in 2003.

Officials hope to construct two more buildings during the next 10 years to keep pace with a growing student population. The newest building on campus was put up in 1989.

Last semester, 5,452 students signed up for credit classes - the largest enrollment in HCC's history - and more than 12,700 people took noncredit courses during the last fiscal year.

HCC President Mary Ellen Duncan said the proposed instructional building for English, math and computer labs is her top priority, because space is at a premium. Students are taking classes in portable buildings, and Duncan is requesting four more trailers for the next fiscal year.

"That's just catching up with the past," she said. "We're talking about past growth here."

County Executive James N. Robey has pledged to fund the county's portion of the new building. But Raymond S. Wacks, county budget director, said the coming fiscal year is shaping up as financially difficult.

Fixed expenses - such as fuel - are up, but the economy is slowing, he said.

"We're probably going to have, across the board, more requests than we can fund," Wacks said.

Joan Athen, chairwoman of HCC's board of trustees, said she is hoping for the best. She called the college's budget "conservative."

"We just had a record increase in enrollment last fall," she said. "We have to teach them somehow."

Under HCC's budget plan, student fees would rise 2.3 percent, or about $1.86 a credit, Duncan said. Tuition costs would remain at $81 a credit.

"We're trying not to raise tuition, because we want to keep the door open," Duncan said.

Officials' other plans include:

Increasing full-time faculty and staff salaries by 6 percent, and paying adjunct professors $50 more per credit hour taught.

Hiring six additional full-time faculty members - and two extra custodians - to catch up with enrollment growth.

Continuing to renovate the athletic building, which students for years have complained is old and inadequate.

Keeping the library open 24 additional hours a week during the summer.

Raising the scholarship fund by $27,000.

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