Trustees Celebrate Aspen Prize Win, Review Funding Data

One day after Valencia College won the 2011 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the college’s board of trustees celebrated the win — and began planning for next year’s budget.

Valencia’s president, Dr. Sanford Shugart, told the trustees that Gov. Rick Scott appears ready to fund the state colleges budgets at last year’s levels, as long as the colleges don’t raise tuition.

To prepare the trustees for the upcoming legislative session and budget discussions, Keith Houck, vice president of administrative services, presented the college’s financial indicators report. The report includes detailed information on the college’s revenues, expenses, facilities and return on investment.

The report noted that state funding for Valencia has dropped from nearly 60 percent of the college’s revenue in 2001-02 to 40 percent of the college’s total revenue in 2010-11. As state funding has decreased, Dr. Shugart noted that the college has tried to streamline costs, but has been forced to raise tuition to make up the difference.

In 2011-12, Valencia received only $4,119 for each “full-time equivalent” — the number of credit-hours for one full-time student.  “We get less dollars per student than any other college in the state of Florida, except Edison (State College),” Houck said.

In addition, Valencia ranks at the bottom of the list of state colleges, based on the amount of building space per student.  In 2010, Valencia had almost 75 square feet of space per student, compared to Chipola Community College, which had almost 310 square feet of space per student. Nearby Brevard Community College has almost 156 square feet of space per student, while St. Petersburg College has 142.6 square feet per student.

“We are ‘facility poor,'” Shugart said, noting that Valencia’s crunch on classroom space doesn’t give the college room to provide some services that other two-year colleges in the state offer, such as a small-business incubator or lab space for specialized science labs. 

The funding inequities, however, have forced Valencia to become efficient, producing graduates for less money than most of the state’s two-year colleges spend. In 2010, Valencia spent $21,635 for every graduate, while Daytona State College spent $42, 344 per graduate, and Hillsborough Community College spent $38, 094 per graduate. Valencia also spent less educating each graduate than Miami-Dade College ($29,393) and Broward College ($28,664).

 In other business, the trustees approved allocating an extra $300,000 for the contruction of Building 10 at Valencia’s West Campus. The building was originally projected to cost $13 million, but Valencia officials asked the trustees for permission to spend an additional $300,000 to install a high-efficiency air conditioning system for the buildling, which will be more efficient than a separate air-handling system for the building.