Franklin County

Kentucky State University board approves budget plan to begin trimming $7 million deficit

FRANKFORT — The Kentucky State University Board of Regents voted Friday to approve a "budget reduction and reorganization plan" that will begin to trim a $7 million deficit in the institution's operating budget.

The plan, presented by President Raymond Burse, curtails spending by nearly $950,000 in the current fiscal year and by $2.1 million in the next fiscal year. The university's current budget is $53 million, excluding $19 million in federal grants.

The reduction plan is necessary because enrollment has dropped to 1,869 students; in the fall of 2013, the university reported 2,533 students.

That leaves the university with more faculty than it needs. But 60 percent of the faculty are tenured, which means they can't be let go except for incompetence, moral turpitude or other specific reasons.

The reduction plan won't bring a balanced budget, Burse said. He had proposed across-the-board salary and pay reductions and furloughs, but he said those suggestions were not received well by employees.

So the plan eliminates 18 positions. Seven positions will be eliminated in External Relations and Development; two in Student Success and Enrollment, which will be renamed Student Affairs; eight in Academic Affairs; and one in Finance.

In addition, 32 adjunct positions will be eliminated until each full-time faculty member has a full teaching load, or if the discipline expertise needed is not found among existing faculty.

Institutional support of athletics will be reduced by $500,000 over the next two years. That breaks down to a reduction of $167,000 in the current fiscal year and $333,000 in the next fiscal year.

Of most interest to faculty is that the plan calls for the suspension of tenure and promotions in the current academic year.

All term contracts for visiting professors will not be renewed at the end of the current term. All tenure-track faculty members with less than three years of service will be given notice of non-reappointment before Dec. 15.

All tenure-track faculty members with three or more years of service will be given notice of non-reappointment before May 1, 2015. "In all cases, each faculty member will be evaluated for retention based on fit, performance and programmatic need during the teach-out period of their employment," the plan says.

"What that allows us to do is to be able to go back and do assessments and evaluations for retention for each and every one of those people," Burse said. "The expectation is that most, if not all, of them would be reappointed."

All faculty were given notice on or before July 1, but the plan presented Friday is a second notice "of what they've already received," Burse said.

The university employs about 142 faculty; total employment is about 600. "It isn't just these faculty positions. Every position on this campus wlll be reviewed and evaluated as to whether people are performing," Burse said.

In addition, Burse said that KSU spends about $50 million each year with vendors and contractors. Seventy-five percent of that spending is with 34 vendors. Burse said all vendor relationships and contracts are being reviewed.

The plan creates two positions in the president's office. One is a director for a new organization called facilities and maintenance operations, which will be created by merging the positions of director of facilities with the associate vice president for capital planning construction and facilities. That director will report to the president.

The other position is the assistant for security and risk, to manage risk assessment and university police.

Those positions will add $97,500 in spending in the current fiscal year and $195,000 in the next fiscal year.

More money will go into information technology, too, which will be reorganized.

The plan also calls for reduction of overtime and says that "retirement options will be discussed with retirement-eligible employees." The plan creates a pool of funds — $250,000 this fiscal year and $250,000 next fiscal year — to those people eligible to retire. Employees who retire will be paid three to six months' salary depending on the length of their KSU service.

Attempts to increase revenue are in the works. Burse said he has proposed offering a 25 percent discount tuition rate to state government employees, provided that the various state cabinets would pick up 25 percent of the tuition cost.

Elgie McFayden, an associate professor at KSU and the faculty regent, cast the only vote against the plan. He expressed concern that putting faculty on notice will cause some professors to look for employment elsewhere, and could cause some programs to fall out of compliance with accreditation standards requiring a certain level of personnel.

The board directed Burse to take the necessary steps to ensure programs are kept in compliance for accreditation.

Regent Elaine Farris expressed support for Burse and her fellow regents, saying the institution is becoming more "student focused."

"We have refocused the university and we are looking at student success," Farris said. "These things have got to be done if we're going to go back to what our mission is, and that's student success."

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