Tough years forecast for RDC if funding not raised

Tough years lie ahead for Red Deer College if the provincial government does not increase funding to postsecondary institutions.

Tough years lie ahead for Red Deer College if the provincial government does not increase funding to postsecondary institutions.

College president Joel Ward said the college has faced challenges in recent years, and if the challenges continue there will be a greater impact on the college’s people, programs and services in as little as two years.

On Tuesday, the board of governors adopted its Comprehensive Institutional Plan, which includes in its three-year financial plan the 2011-2012 school year’s budget and the two following budgets. The working document encompasses the college’s business and strategic plans for the next few school years.

The $90.5-million budget for the upcoming school year was balanced.

Ward said the college runs a fairly lean operation and there was ‘minimal disruption’ to its staff for the next year.

He added there have not been any funding increases in the last two years and the college has had to tighten its belt.

“We focused our decision-making on making sure the programs and the students weren’t affected,” said Ward. “And making sure the teaching and learning processes weren’t affected.”

Ward said the good news is enrolment in the apprenticeship program is starting to increase. Because of declining enrolment, the college had considered cutting staffing in that department. Instead the college was able to move or bridge some faculty over to other departments.

In 2012-2013, however, Red Deer College projects a $1-million shortfall and a $4.5-million deficit in 2013-2014 should provincial funding remain the same. The spending increase in both years are in the salaries and benefits allocation.

“We’re prepared to make whatever changes we need to do to balance our budget but it just says to government status quo this is what it looks like for Red Deer College in 2012-2013, 2013-2014,” said Ward. “And most institutions would be probably be showing the same kind of thing. It is just our way of saying work with us and help us find a way so we can continue to deliver the good programs and services to our learners as we currently do.”

Despite the challenges, the college is just three months away from opening its Donald School of Business in its downtown location. The college is also in talks with Mount Royal University to add a four-year business degree in the fall of 2012.

The board of governors also welcomed new members Christine Moore and Erin Northey and honoured departing members Jeff Chipley and Guy Pelletier.

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com