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Greenfield Community College

GCC budget restores some funding cuts; Trustees hold the line on fees

Greenfield Community College president Robert Pura.

Greenfield Community College president Robert Pura.

GREENFIELD — Greenfield Community College was able to use an extra $1.5 million from the state this year to restore funding to areas that had previously seen cuts — like the purchase of information technology equipment and improvements to the campus facilities.

The money was also used to cover a drop of about $786,000 in tuition revenue caused by declining enrollment ­— which would have normally meant an increase in college fees.

But the GCC board of trustees, who approved the college’s $25.3 million budget last week, was one of several public higher education boards across the state that pledged not to increase fees if the state came through with more money this year.

And the state did, increasing its budget allocation from $7.8 million to just under $9 million. It also sent over $620,000 to the school to cover annual salary increases, compared to $285,000 in 2012.

The extra money allowed GCC officials to boost technology in the classroom and improve online learning, said President Robert Pura. The budget includes an increase of $65,000 in new information technology equipment — a budget item that had been cut by $22,000 last year.

GCC also increased its total building and grounds maintenance spending by $92,000 (a 9.5 percent increase).

The college added $10,000 back into the Nahman-Watson Library’s budget, which Pura said will allow librarians to update its available online resources for students.

Faculty will get to do some more learning this year, too, with $5,500 added back into the budget for professional development. College officials had eliminated $30,000 in professional development spending while making cuts last year.

“It’s hard to advance and be at the cutting edge ... if you’re not doing learning yourself,” said Pura.

And in an attempt to help financially strapped students, the college also added $10,000 in work study funds this year.

In total, this year’s budget is nearly $600,000 lower than last year, but that’s in part because the college is no longer handling bookstore finances — which cost just under $1 million to run each year and was netting annual profits of under $100,000. Private education company Follett now runs the store.

For the first time in years, officials were able to set aside nearly $81,000 in contingency money that they hope to be able to roll over into the 2014-15 school year.

Economic impact study

About $10.6 million, 41 percent of Greenfield Community College’s revenue in 2012, flowed through to people and businesses in Franklin County, according to the college’s latest economic impact study.

And when the college paid its employees, purchased items from businesses or transferred financial aid to students, it’s likely those dollars were then in turn spent locally, faculty member Martha Field told the GCC Board of Trustees last week. That means the college created over $21 million of economic activity in Franklin County in a year, she said.

The college employs just over 350 people from Franklin and Hampshire counties. And the school’s faculty and staff volunteer at over 160 locations around the college, said Field.

A brochure about the report is available at http://web.gcc.mass.edu/fast-facts/

You can reach Chris Shores at:
cshores@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 264

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