Next year’s budget being built now
Budget proposals that ranged from the routine to the extravagant were brought to the President’s Cabinet on campus Feb. 27.
President Paul Sechrist opened the meeting by sounding a pessimistic note about state funding for the next school year.
“The governor presented a budget that provides no increases in funding to most agencies, including higher education,” he said.
Nevertheless, each campus division presented its needs to the group. While many of the items could be boiled down to new computers, bigger space, and more full-time employees, some items stood out.
Bigger Science Labs
One was the suggestion to reconfigure science labs to accommodate mostly group instruction.
The ongoing cost would be $40,000 per year to hire additional lab assistants, said Max Simmons, science and mathematics division dean.
Another one-time cost would be $200,000 to remodel the science centers for that purpose.
“The group labs have been more successful than independently paced labs, and the students seem to be enjoying them more,“ Simmons said.
More Language Skills Teachers
Another academic item called for adding two Language Skills instructors at an ongoing cost of $100,000 per year.
This would fund a change in OCCC’s language curriculum.
Susan VanSchuyver, Arts and Humanities dean, said the addition of two new professors would allow for a shift from Learning Skills classes to a College Prep English system, similar to the College Prep Math model.
Another high-dollar item on the proposed budget is the repair or replacement of the bleachers in the Aquatic Center at a cost of $34,000.
“The end rails … do not meet code requirements. The gap between the bars is too wide, and could allow a child to fall through,” according to the budget request.
The request also notes that the seats themselves are cracked and may present a risk to spectators’ skin and clothing, while others are broken entirely and may trip spectators.
“They can be repaired for now,” said Jessica Martinez-Brooks, Community Outreach and Education director.
“The problem is some of the parts aren’t made anymore. So it would be a temporary fix at best.”
Weight Room Upgrade
Martinez-Brooks also presented a request for funds to enlarge the Weight and Cardio room in the Wellness Center.
The requested funds, $600,000, would go to expanding the size of the room and to adding more equipment, Martinez-Brooks said.
“Right now, we’re close to capacity in that area,” she said.
“Students, faculty and community members who utilize that facility often have to wait in line for the equipment to open up.”
Improving the lives of those who use of the college’s Wi-Fi was at the heart of the first budget request presented by Robin Ying, Information Technology vice president.
Ying proposed an upgrade to wireless device registration and tracking at the college, to the tune of $32,000.
The initiative would aid the college by eliminating the need for network users to constantly sign into the network, Ying said.
By recognizing devices instead of log-in information, users would be able to create an account and be automatically logged in whenever the device is in range of the network, Ying said.
“This would allow students to remain online all the time, instead of being logged out every time the device sleeps.”
Ying said the tracking program also would allow greater forensic opportunities to OCCC police in relation to improper web use, and locating and preventing unauthorized use of the OCCC Wi-Fi emergency notification network.
A proposal to update the college’s emergency notification system was presented by Lealon Taylor, institutional advancement executive director.
Taylor said the current system, Campus Alert Network or CAN, has demonstrated some problems.
He cited the example of the 2010 blizzard, when the CAN system sent out the same message several times for no reason.
Paula Gower, marketing and public relations director, explained why.
“The software CAN is based on — Regroup — actually isn’t designed for this,” Gower said.
“If it wasn’t for all the work John [Richardson] had done on it, CAN wouldn’t even have as much functionality as it does now. We were mis-sold on that product.”
The replacement system, RAVE, would cost the college an additional one-time expenditure of $9,290 to implement — over and above the recurring annual cost of $10,000 to maintain a campus alert system, according to the budget request.
Stu Harvey, planning and research executive director, said some people wonder why college administrators go through this process when they have little hope of getting the money they ask for.
“Good ideas don’t come in a particular schedule,” he said. “We want to be sure we are servicing the ideas when they come along.”
Harvey noted the benefit of gathering good ideas, even if the college has to hold them until funding increases.
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