Additional JMU Raise Possible
Officials Say Recommendations From State ‘Favorable’
Posted: December 3, 2012
HARRISONBURG — The most important expenditure in the State Council of Higher Education’s proposed budget additions for fiscal 2014 is the inclusion of a 2 percent state-supported raise, said Charles King, James Madison University’s vice president of finance.
“It has been since 2007 since our faculty have received a raise and it is just really important to reward our hard working faculty for all their efforts and to remain competitive,” said King.
At JMU, the raise — which is in addition to another 2 percent raise already included in the state’s biennium budget — would be paid for with $725,651 in general funds from the state and $782,979 in nongeneral funds, made up of tuition and fee money.
“We’re very encouraged by the recommendations from SCHEV regarding faculty salaries,” JMU President Jonathan Alger said, though he stressed that it is not the only step needed to improve faculty and staff salaries.
“This is an issue [where] there are short- and medium- and long-term aspects to it that we have to pay attention to,” Alger said. “It’s not that in one year you sort of fix the problem.”
The raise is one piece of the nearly $109 million SCHEV would like Gov. Bob McDonnell and the General Assembly to consider adding to the budgets of Virginia’s public institutions of higher education in fiscal 2014.
Of that, approximately $2.3 million in general funds is specifically for JMU, according to the recommendations approved by SCHEV last week. About $1.5 million in nongeneral funds is also slated for the university.
The document lays out proposed appropriations to the Virginia Community College System, but according to officials at Blue Ridge Community College, the specific effect to individual schools is not yet known.
The budget recommendations will now be sent to McDonnell and state legislators, who will consider them in discussions about funding for the next fiscal year.
The additional money is on top of the $258 million in new higher education specific funds the General Assembly already approved as part of the state’s biennium budget.
According to a press release from SCHEV, other than a 2 percent salary increase included in fiscal 2013, the current biennial budget does not provide additional funds for core operations, enrollment growth, financial aid or legislative initiatives.
Those areas would be the main beneficiaries of the additional funding proposed by the council.
Of the $108.7 million proposed in new general funds, $71.5 million is earmarked for institutional performance — including the 2 percent raise and money to serve each institution’s projected student population. Some $27 million is for undergraduate student financial aid and $10.2 million is for operation and maintenance of new facilities.
“All of the priorities are very important,” King said. “We’re hopeful that all of these different pockets … will receive some funding.”
Under the plan, JMU would receive nearly $500,000 in general funds from the state for base operating needs — for additional faculty and staff, research materials and to increase the number of degrees awarded.
Of the $27 million in undergraduate student financial aid, $942,843 in general funds would be allocated to JMU.
The school would also receive $1.2 million for enrollment growth under the proposal.
About $150,000 is earmarked in general funds and $161,481 in nongeneral funds for JMU to operate Duke Hall, which is currently undergoing renovations. The renovated hall is expected to reopen in November.
In addition to the $108.7 million in general fund monies, the document also recommended $30.7 million be put toward a state program that pays for updating equipment for instruction and research. At JMU, the $186,333 for that purpose would be put toward equipment for lab sciences and other science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, classes.
The council also approved $18.3 million in additions to the maintenance reserve budgets of colleges and universities, including $1.4 million for JMU, which will go toward projects like roof replacements or air conditioning upgrades, according to officials.
Alger said it is too early to know what this year’s budget cycle would look like, specifically, for higher education.
“I think [there is] uncertainty about the fiscal cliff negotiations [and people] are waiting to see what the outcome of that will be,” Alger said, referring to the budgetary negotiations under way in Washington, D.C. “That will certainly have an impact on the commonwealth of Virginia.”
But he said he is encouraged by the funding Richmond has previously committed to education.
“Certainly it seems to me that the governor’s office has pretty clearly indicated that higher education is a priority.”
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