College deficit could now be $2 million

College officials are saying that revenue is not meeting expecations

NORTHWEST COMMUNITY College president Denise Henning now says the college deficit may touch $2 million, up from an estimate released last week of $1.7 million.

Both figures are also substantially higher than the $1.1 million deficit figure recorded as of the end of the college’s last financial year on March 31, 2011.

While Henning has not spoken about layoffs and other measures to cut spending at one of the larger public sector employers in the area, she has talked about “hard decisions” that need to be made within the next two months.

The president is touring college locations and speaking with students and college workers about “possible collaborative solutions” to address the college deficit.

That tour follows a series of meetings held last fall in which Henning, who is approaching her first anniversary as president, asked community members what kind of programs they want the college to provide in an attempt to narrow down the college’s offerings.

I took this job knowing NWCC had a deficit of over a million dollars. Instead of coming in and presenting a balanced budget last year, which would have meant major cuts without any strategic direction looking toward the future, I asked the government for a year’s grace so we could do the important work of priority planning – that is, receiving input about what’s important for our community members, business and industry, our students and our employees,” she said in a Jan. 18, 2012 release .

We needed to do this so we could make informed decisions not only to address our deficit, but more importantly, to transform NWCC into a vibrant, sustainable community college.”

Henning said the deficit was estimated to be $1.3 million last fall but that the figure is now climbing because revenue isn’t meeting expectations.

In the meantime, an organizer with the college students’ union questions the figures being presented.

Mikael Jensen of the Northwest Community College Students’ Union said that if the deficit does reach $2 million, the red-ink figure has been growing by $100,000 a month since Henning was hired.

He suggested Henning look to reducing the number of managers before contemplating cuts that would affect students.