PLATTSBURGH — Clinton Community College is asking for a $295,593 increase in local aid from the county for the 2019-2020 academic year, a 10 percent increase from last year.
This request, as well as the totality of the school’s proposed budget, was presented to the Clinton County Legislature at the Aug. 7 finance committee meeting by college President Ray DiPasquale and Mary Blaine, the college’s CFO.
“There’s been an awful lot of discussion, an awful lot of work, and an awful lot of after hours time that’s been put in by members to get to this budget,” said David Favro, Clinton County Sheriff and member of the college’s board of trustees, before DiPasquale and Blaine began. “The outlook up on the campus is very good, it’s very bright and there’s a lot of partnership and working together that’s been going on.”
Before Blaine got into the specifics of the budget, which included a $12,671,016 overall spending budget for 2019-20, down from $13,119,861 in 2019, DiPasquale went through some of the general reasons behind the college’s bigger ask and what the school has been doing to help.
“If you look at unemployment in our county, it’s terrific at 3.8 percent,” DiPasquale said. "But what that does, is means that a lot of high school students are just going to work. We can tell you that because Bombardier is hiring them at $18 to $20 an hour and having them train at our Institute for Advanced Manufacturing.”
The school has also seen a drop in full-time students, with DiPasquale saying that though they have roughly 1,400 total students, about 60 percent are only part-time, giving the school roughly 800 full-time equivalent students.
New York also cut aid by another $57,000 this year.
The school has tried to counteract the lost funds in many ways, including now holding just one commencement ceremony each year in the spring, asking employees to look at early retirement and leaving 21 positions unfilled again.
Those positions, which include vice president of administration and finance and human resources director, have been left unfilled since DiPasquale arrived as president, he said.
The school will also be debuting a new welding program in the fall semester, and a drone program in the spring semester.
Following Blaine’s detailed presentation on the whole budget, Legislator Mark Dame said he was still concerned about the continued decrease in students, as a 10 percent increase in funding from the county won’t be possible every year.
“This trajectory of student population has been going down,” Dame said. “It’s been cut in half in eight or nine years. At what point are we going to be at a critical juncture?”
DiPasquale was not overly concerned with a continued drop in enrollment, though.
“I think we’ve reached bottom at 800, DiPasquale said. “We think that’s where we’re going to be for many years to come.”
DiPasquale and Blaine also brought up the possibility of the college’s board of trustees giving an update presentation on the school’s cost-minimizing efforts to the legislature after the fall semester ends.
The finance committee voted to authorize a public hearing for the college’s proposed budget, scheduled for Aug. 28 at 7 p.m.
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