Tuition hike, raises await regents OK

Come fall, students may be paying more to attend OCCC, said President Paul Sechrist in an all-employee email dated May 29.

To “maintain [OCCC’s] current offerings and services to students,” Sechrist said, a “modest” tuition and fee increase will be necessary.

The proposed tuition increase — to be voted on by the OCCC Board of Regents next month — would include a $3 per credit hour hike in tuition and a $1 per credit hour increase in student activity fees — a $4 increase overall.

“A full-time student (30 credit hours) per year would see an increase of $120 per year,” Sechrist said.

John Boyd, Business and Finance vice president, said the tuition increases are part of a resolution set forth by The Leadership Council, a group made up of student representatives that “provides a forum for exchange of information between the student body and college administrators,” according to the TLC website.

Boyd said the resolution set a limit of 5 percent on the tuition fee increase for FY 2012-2013.

“Through this resolution, The Leadership Council made a commitment, saying they would support our efforts,” Boyd said.

“But they also said that it was our responsibility to effectively manage our budget and we made the commitment to do that,” he said.

Boyd said the proposed tuition increase was a little more than 4 percent — within the limits set by TLC.

In addition, OCCC faculty and staff members may soon see raises after three years without any pay increases, according to the same all-employee email.

“Since salaries and wages have not increased in the past three years, a modest merit-based raise is a priority in the plan for next year,” Sechrist said.

The proposed plan, which also will be presented to the Board of Regents for approval next month, includes an average 2.4 percent increase in basic salaries and wages, according to the email.

That increase is based on half of a stipend that was given to full-time employees in November 2011, as well as a merit-based adjustment based on this year’s annual performance rating, Sechrist said.

The plan also would include a $15 increase in adjunct professors’ pay, bringing their pay rate from $655 per credit hour to $670 per credit hour, and student employees would see a 25 cent pay raise, he said.

Sechrist said the total cost of these planned increases is $1,037,151 and will be funded using new revenue brought into the college.

“These pay increases will be funded from revenue that had been going into contingency budgets to cover the shortfall in state appropriations in previous years,” Sechrist said.

“We now feel comfortable in using all new revenue for (ongoing) expenses,” he said.

“Unanticipated needs, opportunities and emergencies that may arise next year will be funded using our carryover (savings) rather than from new revenue.”

Boyd said the recommendation for raises does not necessarily mean more funding is coming to the college but that the budget supports the ability to sustain raises in the long term — something the college wasn’t sure of in past years.

“While there might have been a margin for pay raises, the uncertainty of where we were going [with the budget] in 2013 meant there wasn’t sound enough information to make that call, to commit to a recurring cost,” Boyd said.

“That’s why we did the one-time stipend.

“There was a slight ray of hope that with the turnaround in the state economy there might be some money for higher education, but that just didn’t hold,” he said.

“But I think that as a result of the college being good stewards of the money we’ve had, we’re going to have enough revenue to cover a recurring increase in salary, despite a downturn in 2013 as far as our enrollment.”

Boyd said the tuition increase will not be used to fund the raises.

That increase will be used to cover rising costs and help the college maintain its current programs.

“Contrary to what you may hear on the news, we have been experienced inflation this last decade,” Boyd said

Costs to the college are increasing. It costs more to operate.

“So [the tuition increase] is not about paying for teacher’s salaries. It’s about allowing us to maintain the same level of service without having to cut any programs or services.”

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