Summer classes to continue at CBC

By Ty Beaver, Tri-City HeraldJune 24, 2013 

Summer school classes at Columbia Basin College will continue as scheduled despite the state budget stalemate in Olympia, but the college may have to cut staff later this year.

The Board of Trustees approved a resolution during a special meeting Monday for President Rich Cummins to keep the school running on tuition dollars, the college's main source of revenue outside of state funding.

The Legislature is in its second special session as lawmakers attempt to pass operating and capital projects budgets. They have until the end of the week to avoid a government shutdown, though thousands of state employees already have started receiving notices they will be temporarily laid off if a deal isn't struck.

If state money stops flowing, Cummins and other CBC administrators said tuition dollars could tide the school over for as much as two months if necessary.

"I still continue to believe a budget will be passed by the end of this week," Cummins told the board.

Tuition comprises about half of CBC's revenues. If the school uses tuition money as a stopgap, and the state doesn't replace it when a budget is passed, there would be less money for the rest of the 2013-14 fiscal year, Cummins said. Some staff might have to be laid off in that scenario.

Washington State University officials said the state's delay in reaching a budget won't affect operations at WSU campuses either, including Richland. Summer classes will continue uninterrupted.

About 3,100 students are enrolled in summer courses at CBC. It costs about $3 million to $4 million per month to operate the campus at this time of year. Cummins told the Herald that while a shutdown could affect the college's relationships with its employee unions, it is especially critical students continuing their education not be affected.

"We owe it to our students to keep summer school going," he said.

Also Monday:

-- The board approved construction of a veterans memorial on the Pasco campus. Student government will pay the $75,000 needed for construction. A $20,000 donation fund will pay for maintenance.

College administrators said the construction contract for the memorial should be finalized by early July. Construction could be complete by the end of September.

-- The board is expected to formally approve an extension to Cummins' contract at its next board meeting in August.

Board members evaluated Cummins' performance earlier this month and have already signed off on the extension.

"He's not going anywhere anytime soon," said board Chairman Duke Mitchell during the meeting.

Cummins' annual salary of $195,000 will remain the same, with no raise or cost-of-living adjustment. He's worked for the college for 23 years, the past six years as its president.

-- Ty Beaver: 509-582-1402; tbeaver@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @_tybeaver

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