College faces budget crunch

Northwest Community College needs to cut as much as $1.7 million to eliminate a deficit

NORTHWEST COMMUNITY College faces having to cut as much as $1.7 million to balance its budget.

In an open letter distributed yesterday, college president Denise Henning said the institution will be making difficult decisions over the next two and half months to meet the requirement to match spending with income for its next fiscal year beginning April 1.

Henning said the provincial government had allowed the college to run a deficit in its budget year now ending so that it could establish priorities but that the grace period has now ended.

Our Board of Governors understands and recognizes the need to balance our budget, and both management and union leadership are collaboratively working together through every step of the process to minimize the impact to our students and employees,” wrote Henning in her letter.

The college is setting up a specific website to post budget information and will be asking for ideas on how to save money.

Despite our current economic challenges, we will continue to provide our students with high-quality educational experiences,” said Henning.

Henning, who is about to start her second year as college president, had spent the fall touring the region gathering ideas from people as to what programs and services the college should provide.

At the time, she said the college did have limited resources and would ultimately have to concentrate on specific educational and training areas.

The provincial government has been nibbling away at college budgets for several years by, for example, reducing the amount it provides for maintenance, for aboriginal students and for industrial training.

Last spring, the college deficit was estimated to be in the $1.1 million range.

Henning’s predecessor, Stephanie Forsyth, who left nearly 18 months ago to run Red River College in Winnipeg, had also warned of financial trouble.

NWCC has weathered financial storms in the past and we will again, but the storm brewing this year is particularly harsh,” wrote Forsyth in a mid-2010 message to college employees.