Today, June 20, 2011, the NCCFT Executive Committee attended meetings of the Nassau County Legislature’s Rules and Finance committees. We addressed the Finance committee before it voted to forward the NCC budget to the full legislature. The full legislature will consider the NCC budget, along with many others, at a meeting next Tuesday, June 28, at 1pm.
Our statement was read by Frank Frisenda, Vice President for Classroom Faculty.
Members of the Finance Committee, thank you for your time. As Vice President of the NCCFT, I represent over 700 full time classroom faculty, librarians, counselors and professional staff at Nassau Community College. This group is collectively identified as “the full time faculty”.
Nassau has often been referred to by legislators as “The Gem of Nassau County” and we are proud of our ability to provide full opportunity and open access to excellent, affordable higher education. This ability has been placed in jeopardy by funding cuts.
Our students come to us with a range of needs. Many come to NCC because of significant challenges in ability or lack of preparation. Enabling these students to reach their full potential requires hours outside of the classroom, and these hours are provided by full time faculty. At a recent Board of Trustees meeting it was noted that over the last three years NCC’s enrollment has been up, yet the Student Personnel Services faculty has been cut by 12 percent. This at a time when our students need more, not fewer, on campus services since funding for community-based services has also been cut.
Our full time faculty support students during office hours, club advisement, and other out of class activities. We provide curriculum development, and participate in the shared governance system without which the college could not operate. Yet the full time faculty faces dramatic reduction as a result of funding cuts and routine cost increases.
The budget before you is inadequate. Knowing that sufficient funds from the state and the county were not forthcoming, the college did turn to the students – its only other significant revenue stream – for a tuition increase. The NCCFT, recognizing the proposed tuition increase was too low to make up for the loss of state and county revenue, approached the college’s administration and offered to help. We believe that we could have identified cost savings which – IN COMBINATION WITH THIS TUITION INCREASE – would have prevented layoffs that threaten the quality of education that our students are paying dearly for.
Let me be clear: This is not a plea for job protection. This is about maintaining the quality of our students’ education. If this budget passes as it stands, our students will be paying more but getting less. We want our students, if they must pay more, to get all the services they need.
In conclusion, because additional funds from the State and from the County are not forthcoming, and because the college did not take up our offer to discuss cost savings, we ask that you send this budget back to the college with a demand that they add an additional $150 in tuition per year so that the full time faculty can continue to provide Nassau County with the excellent, accessible higher education it needs.
NOTE: The NCCFT sympathizes with our students and believes that the burden placed upon them by the county and the state is unfair. According to state education law, section 6304, tuition should not account for more than a third of a community college’s budget because the county should contribute a third and the state, in a full opportunity community college, should contribute up to 40 percent.