FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA

Education

Solano College study session reveals $2.6M budget deficit

By From page A1 | August 07, 2014

FAIRFIELD — Solano Community College is looking at a $2.6 million deficit in the 2014-15 budget unless something changes, a college official said at the governing board study session Wednesday night.

That’s $200,000 more than was thought just a few of days ago.

“We have our work cut out for us,” Yulian Ligioso, vice president of finance and administration, said, based on enrollment trends over the past four years.

The college has seen declining enrollment since 2011-12 and did not meet needed target enrollment numbers during the spring and summer semesters.

In order to protect itself from the state revenue loss due to the decline, the college went into a state “stabilization funding” program in 2012-13 with a protected full-time equivalent student enrollment number of 8,500. The program gives the college three years to return to that base enrollment number. Solano College reached 8,200 and plans to take advantage of stability funding in 2014-15 as well.

State funding is based on this number. Ligioso called it the college’s “life blood.”

Ligioso spoke frankly to trustees when he went through a “Sound Fiscal Management Checklist” that outlined various areas he said the college needed improvement and where it was acting successfully. Improvements were needed in the areas of deficit spending; enrollment; bargaining agreements – it’s ability to settle bargaining agreements; and unrestricted general fund staffing – the general fund budget allocated to salaries and benefits is higher than the state average.

Areas of success included consistently maintaining the necessary 5 percent general fund balance, internal ledger controls to ensure integrity, accurate data in its management information systems with key reports available, and stable leadership.

Many of the items Ligioso outlined came into play frequently as the college struggled to keep its accreditation intact and remove itself from sanctions, which it successfully did in February after a struggle that went on for several years.

Ligioso stressed both the need to increase enrollment through marketing and branding, as well as operating efficient classrooms with an increased number of students that bring in the needed state revenue based on full-time student attendance, and classes in consecutive sequences that don’t overlap.

“We need to really think strategically about our offerings,” he said.

The budget discussion was informational only so no vote was required, but to mitigate the deficit and improve its financial standing Ligioso recommended that the staff reduce expenditures by $1.75 million, target an 8 percent general fund reserve level, increase enrollment, look at more efficient scheduling of classes and develop a plan to address 2015-16 growth.

Reach Susan Winlow at 427-6955 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/swinlowdr.

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Discussion | 4 comments

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  • George Guynn, JrAugust 07, 2014 - 11:28 am

    Although the percentage for salary and benefits from the general fund budget wasn't stated exactly in this article, it is 88%. I know because I was at the board meeting last night. This number needs to be a lot smaller, if education is for the students! Shame on the board for allowing this. Also, if the enrollment is down, why do we need $348 million, the Measure Q Bond, for expansion?

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  • JimboAugust 07, 2014 - 2:21 pm

    Ever stop to think schools are popping up everywhere and competition is taking their students with better offers? Supporting specific declining institutions like this amounts to nothing more than welfare to an educational corporation.

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  • Education isn't a free market goodAugust 07, 2014 - 2:41 pm

    Jimbo, those for-profit schools popping up everywhere promise degrees and credentials that are over-priced and don't deliver. Heck--a couple in Fairfield closed recently, taking students' money with them. Those "better offers" you refer to are false promises. AND they saddle students with thousands of dollars of debt--upon which many will default. Those are often federal student loans so the taxpayers end up eating the cost of failed for-profit education. The community college is an affordable solution for students who want to transfer to four-year schools or just gain vocational skills to go to work. I think it's funny that you consider public education welfare for schools.

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  • Dominic ReignsAugust 18, 2014 - 2:53 am

    Really great post I must say.

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