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Archive for Monday, August 9, 1999

MORE FUNDING EXPECTED FOR REGENTS INSTITUTIONS

August 9, 1999

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A report to the Board of Regents is expected to say slightly more money will be available in fiscal year 2001 for community colleges, Washburn and merit raises at state universities.

With the reconstituted Kansas Board of Regents and the state's current fiscal year both just 1 month old, state university and community college officials are preparing for next year's budget fight.

Attention is being focused on the fiscal year 2001 budget because a working group of college and university financial officers is preparing a report on how much state money will be available for community colleges, Washburn University and state university "faculty salary enhancement," the regents term for merit raises.

The regents, reconstituted by an act of the Kansas Legislature last session, now governs Washburn, all state universities and the state's community colleges.

The report, to be presented to the Board of Regents when it meets this week in Topeka, describes the amount of money provided under a spending plan written into the law that reconstituted the board.

Marvin Burris, the board's director of planning, budget and governmental affairs, said he expects the report will say slightly more money will available for community colleges, Washburn and faculty salary enhancement than was expected when the Legislature wrote the law.

"I expect it will be slightly up by a factor of about 2 percent," Burris said.

The original projections laid out by the Legislature estimated $74.1 million for community college aid, $9 million for Washburn's operating grant and $8.4 million for faculty salary enhancement.

He said the working group he leads would report the faculty salary enhancement figure would be about $8.9 million.

For this fiscal year, which began July 1, the amount of money available for faculty salary enhancement is $3.4 million.

Burris said the greater figure anticipated for fiscal year 2001 should not be directly compared to this year's amount.

The $3.4 million this year was targeted by Gov. Bill Graves and the Legislature to increase faculty salaries and was in addition to a 3.5 percent increase in unclassified salaries. Faculty members are counted among unclassified employees.

Targeting the salary enhancement just on full-time faculty and not making it available for other unclassified employees would hurt KU, said Provost David Shulenburger.

"Geological survey employees and employees in our libraries weren't included in the board's definition of full-time faculty," Shulenburger said. "They are as hard to recruit as faculty."

Under the guidelines for expenditure of this year's salary enhancement, only full-time faculty members engaged in research, instruction or public service were eligible for merit increases under the salary enhancement.

Under board guidelines, this year's faculty salary enhancement was divided among the state universities based on the percentage of full-time faculty members at each university. For KU's Lawrence campus that percentage was 26.2 percent, equaling $889,500. KU Medical Center received 15.8 percent, or $537,212.

The formula for determining the amount for faculty salary enhancement is based on the amount of increase in the community college funding under the new law, Burris said.

Under the new law, community college aid from the state was estimated to be $11.8 million higher than it would have been under the old method of determining state aid to community colleges, Burris said.

Because the Legislature wanted to reduce community college dependence on out-of-district tuition, $3.4 million is earmarked for reducing out-of-district tuition for the 19 community colleges by one-quarter in fiscal year 2001.

The law requires an amount equal to the remainder be devoted to faculty salary enhancement. That amount was projected at $8.4 million by the Legislature.

Shulenburger pointed out that next year's Legislature need not be bound by what this year's Legislature did.

"Senate Bill 345 doesn't have much meaning until funds are appropriated," he said. "We need it both for faculty and for other unclassified employees."

Senate Bill 345 is how the new law is still referred to. That is the number it was given when it was introduced into the Senate.

One of the authors of the law known as Senate Bill 345 said there should not be too much tampering with the new law in its first year of operation.

Rep. Richard Reinhardt, D-Erie, wrote the original formula that lays down how state aid to community colleges should be determined.

"I think they ought to stay pretty close to the dollar amount," Reinhardt said.

"Does there need to be some refinement in the first year or two? Yes," he said.

Community college leaders are hoping for some changes, said Sheila Frahm, executive director of the Kansas Association of Community College Trustees.

"The instructions from the Legislature were to be fair to all 19 community colleges," Frahm said.

In the mix of goals for community college funding, reduction of reliance on out-of-district tuition and property tax relief in the form of mill levy reduction in the school districts that operate the colleges, at least one college will see a net loss in revenue.

Cloud County Community College in Concordia would lose $102,836 under the funding formula.

Other colleges are concerned that in future years as out-of-district tuition is reduced, they will lose more money, Frahm said.

Burris said Cloud County should be protected by a transitional grant that will make up the lost revenue.

-- Erwin Seba's phone message number is 832-7145. His e-mail address is eseba@ljworld.com.

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