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By Sarah Miller, The County Times
HOLLYWOOD, Md. -- The College of Southern Maryland is in a unique situation when it comes to its operating budget – there are actually three budgets, one for each individual school, rolled up into the overall budget.
School President Brad Gottfried said each campus has an individual budget made up of tuition paid to the school, county funding and state funding.
“We do not mix and match,” he said.
Ideally, the three components would each make up a third of each school’s funding. Unfortunately, that’s not the way it has been working. The state has cut funding to approximately 19 percent of the total budget, and student tuition is making up 51 percent of the budget, Gottfried said. County funding ideally makes up the remainder, he said.
When tuition goes up, be it at a four-year university or a community college like CSM, the institution begins to lose students.
All totaled, the operating budget for the three CSM campuses is $59,195,108. The La Plata campus is the largest, with an operating budget of $35,216,947. The Prince Frederick campus works with an operating budget of $11,671,328 and the Leonardtown campus has a $12,306,833 budget. At the June 21 Board of Trustees meeting, the trustees passed the proposed budgets despite Charles County not having made a formal funding commitment yet.
During the meeting, the board agreed it was worth the risk of passing it in June rather than pushing it off to the next board of trustees meeting in July, after the new fiscal year starts. The budget includes a four percent tuition increase for students.
Part of the budget increase includes payments into a retirement fund for employees. Gottfried said setting up the fund will take care of employees after they retire without continuous tuition raises to cover them.
Gottfried said the budget reflects the size of the campus and the size of the student population at the campus. In the recent past, because of the growth of the student population, the cost of doing business has been steadily increasing. In order to best serve the students, the schools have been adding buildings and staff, such as teachers and advisors.
“I think it’s going to moderate in the near future,” Gottfried said, adding that he anticipates the student population leveling off in the coming years.
He said when they approach the counties with their budget and the amount they’d like the county to contribute, Gottfried said they don’t go in with an inflated number assuming the county will cut some. They ask for what they need and compromise, and look at where they can trim expenditures. Tuition increases are a last resort, Gottfried said, and help cover gaps left by state funding, county funding and the income from the current tuition, if there is any after trimming and tightening measures are made to the budget.
“It’s certainly not an art or a science,” he said. “Maybe it’s somewhere in between.”