Fort Lewis College is conducting a budget analysis, a hypothetical exercise in which each of the school’s five vice presidents are asked to plan for budget cuts of $4.5 million, which equates to about 8.2 percent of the school’s general fund.
The $4.5 million is an estimate initiated by the President’s Budget Committee, said Steve Schwartz, vice president of finance and administration. The $4.5 million is based on preliminary estimates of a slew of factors that are not yet known, he said. Among the variables considered in coming up with the $4.5 million estimate: a trend in enrollment declines, higher education funding from the state, and revenue estimates based on tuition.
“These are all preliminary figures, and they all could change. It is really early in the process, and nothing has been decided. We won’t know actual numbers for months,” Schwartz said.
As an example of the preliminary nature of the exercise, Schwartz noted state funding for higher education won’t be known until Gov. John Hickenlooper signs the Long Bill, the state budget, which doesn’t typically occur until May of each year.
State funding for higher education also plays a key role in setting in-state tuition rates, so any tuition increase estimated in the budget exercise is another example of an estimate and likely to change, Schwartz said.
Mitch Davis, spokesman for FLC, said the exercise stems from the Fort Lewis College President’s Budget Committee, which met and looked at possible scenarios where budget cuts would need to be made.
“The committee decided that the College should go through the process of identifying where cuts could be made, if they became necessary. The final decision on what, if any, budget cuts need to be made will depend on a number of factors, including enrollment, tuition, and state funding. These factors are still in flux and until they come into focus the College won’t know what, if any, cuts need to be made,” Davis stated in an email.
Schwartz said making proportional cuts doesn’t make budgetary sense, so vice presidents are working on this scenario with other administrators, faculty and staff members in order to provide as broad of input as possible in conducting the budget exercise.
Similar to any actual budget cuts that might come, the budgetary exercise to trim $4.5 million also seeks broader input from the FLC community, Schwartz said.
Schwartz said the budgetary exercise will reconvene after the winter break and refinements will be made as better estimates of numbers involved in the process become clear.
Eventually, the Budget Committee, working with FLC President Dene Thomas, will boil down the results of the exercise into a recommendation that will go before the FLC Board of Trustees, he said.