Just when think we know what our next steps will be for Treasure Valley Community College, we get new information, changed guidance, and additional recommendations regarding the novel coronavirus COVID-19. I am still on weekly (and sometimes daily) phone calls with other community college presidents and state education leaders trying to sort out the changes we are all facing.
While I’m not out in public as much as I’d like to be, when I am I get a lot of questions about the next steps, so I thought I would share them here.
When will the College be open to the public and for onsite classes?
The short answer is not until fall term. While we are working on plans to allow some labs to be held this summer, most of our classes will stay online and on Zoom throughout the summer, based on requirements from the Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission. Although we entered Phase I of the state reopening, our buildings will still remain closed to the public and we will still require physical distancing and face coverings per CDC guidelines through the summer. We are starting some initial planning to begin allowing some career and technical education students back on campus to meet their objectives — as long as we can keep them in small groups, socially distanced, and with face masks or appropriate PPE. This is no small task, and as I’ve shared before, I’m so grateful to our faculty for their patience in altering their curriculum to meet these guidelines.
What happened to the COVID-19 Stimulus money?
TVCC applied for and received the first half of our approximately $480,000 share. The first half is 100% directed to our students. Students who are eligible for Title IV funds through the filing of a FAFSA form (the federal financial aid application) are receiving this money. We are finalizing the lists and will begin notifying students in the next two weeks. Once those funds are distributed, we can apply for the second half of the funds for reimbursement of COVID-related expenses. We are still getting guidance on how we can use these funds, but we don’t expect a loss in tuition or other revenues to be covered.
How much will our state allocation be reduced for FY21?
We will not know the full extent of possible reductions until after the May 20thOregon revenue forecast is released, but as I’ve shared, we’ve been told to prepare for a reduction of 8.5% over the FY20-21 biennium, which has an impact of 17-23% during the final year of a two-year budget cycle. For TVCC, this means more than $1.34 million in budget reductions.
How will you set a budget for next year with so much unknown?
Our annual public budget meeting will be held prior to the regular Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, May 19. Check our website tvcc.ccfor a link and more information about the meeting. While we still do not have a full picture of our post-COVID-19 financial picture, we have to pass a budget based on the information we have today. We cannot adjust our budget until we are much more certain how state funding will be affected, which won’t be until sometime in June. The Board of Education is prepared to address a revised budget after receiving feedback from the citizen Budget Committee. The Budget Committee will help us approve a balanced budget in June to comply with Oregon budget law, but we know will likely need to submit a revised budget once the new state allocation is known.
While so much is still unknown – for all of us – what I do know is that our students, faculty, staff, and community are incredibly resilient. I know we will emerge from this stronger and more appreciative of what we used to take for granted. I know that I feel incredibly grateful to help lead us through this challenge and to have the community’s support of TVCC.
Dana Young is president of Treasure Valley Community College. The views and opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily represent those of The Argus Observer.