College needs to cut $1.1 million

NORTHWEST Community College is working on a budget-cutting plan designed to cure a deficit of $1.1 million.

Despite rising costs and demands for services, NWCC president Denise Henning said the college hasn’t seen a budget increase in years.

Overall spending at the college now tops $26 million a year with the provincial government providing more than $17 million of that amount.

College board members were to approve a list of cuts and other ways to save money at a meeting last week but postponed a decision when instructors complained that they had not been asked for their opinion.

For now, NWCC has been given permission by the  provincial education and finance ministries to run a deficit but that’s based on the college coming up with a plan to cut spending.

The college isn’t alone – two other post secondary institutions out of 59 in BC have been allowed to run deficits for now.

A deficit mitigation plan generally includes  a list of budget issues, proposed solutions and how long an institution plans to run a deficit. Although NWCC has submitted its plan already, it will continue to negotiate with the province about how to balance the budget.

“Post secondary institutions are generally expected to eliminate deficits within three years,” said the education ministry in an email.

The board is expected to meet again May 27 to negotiate cuts. Board members admitted at a May 6 meeting tough decisions will be made and that programs, employees, students and the community will be affected.

But, Henning said college administrators will be speaking with community members to determine how the college can effectively and efficiently provide courses and services. Henning and a team will visit 17 randomly selected communities, and survey others, to identify these needs.

“It’s very important that we do this work,” she said. “It gives is the ability to plan our work for the next five years.”

“Then we can work that plan knowing what our priorities are, where our niche areas are going to be,” she said.

Henning said she is also confident the college will continue to meet the educational needs of the northwest.

The college has diversified to include everything from offering courses in remote villages to opening a mining and exploration school in Smithers.


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