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College coffers depleted
by Bill Clough
Nov 07, 2012 | 2200 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jason Collins photo
Moving the continuing education classes and other programs from the Lott-Canada School onto the Coastal Bend College campus isn’t a huge savings, but it does save some money. College officials are struggling to save what money they can, as they learned recently that their reserves are grossly depleted.
Jason Collins photo Moving the continuing education classes and other programs from the Lott-Canada School onto the Coastal Bend College campus isn’t a huge savings, but it does save some money. College officials are struggling to save what money they can, as they learned recently that their reserves are grossly depleted.
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BEEVILLE — Coastal Bend College is solvent — barely.

Reduced enrollment — down 5 percent from last year — and a plethora of unplanned expenses have significantly dropped the college’s budget reserves, according to a draft budget prepared by the contract auditing firm, Frank Lovvern & Kieschnick of Corpus Christi.

The unplanned expenses, according to CBC President Dr. Beatriz Espinoza, include the return of a six-figure grant and higher utility bills.

Earlier this year, the college was forced to return a $218,000 nursing grant when not as many students as expected enrolled in a nursing program at the Kingsville campus.

Utilities — mostly electrical — were between $200,000 and $300,000 higher than expected last year, says Espinoza, who says that while she had received hints of the shortfall, the receipt two weeks ago of the draft budget “made it a little more real.”

Espinoza says she has inherited the factors that have contributed to the financial situation.

“I’m a little disappointed that I found out about all this so late,” she says.

That CBC had three presidents — Thomas Baynum, interim President Jimmy Goodson and then Espinoza — in one year contributed, she says.

But Espinoza is quick to assure that all the items that contributed to the financial drop have been corrected in next year’s budget — including not spending funds based on estimates of student enrollment until the actual count is complete.

In addition to belt-tightening, Espinoza has formed a dozen-member Strategic Enrollment Management task force charged with developing both short-term and long-term plans to increase CBC’s enrollment.

Higher enrollment and cost cutting are given as reasons why Espinoza has transferred all services and programs at the Lott-Canada facility to the CBC campus — including the Adult Basic Education Office and the Customized and Continuing Education office.

“The federal grant that provided most of the funding has changed its emphasis,” she explains.

Previously, state and federal funding were indexed on the number of students earning a GED certificate. Starting this year, grant funding is based on how many students enroll in college.

“We polled the students to see if moving them to the college would present a hardship,” Espinoza says. Most, she says, were enthusiastic.

“Having them here eases their transition to the college.”

CBC signed a 17-year lease in 2008 for the historical Lott-Canada building from the Beeville Independent School District, but now has asked BISD to allow it to break the contract.

Espinoza says CBC moved out of the building Oct. 31.

BISD Superintendent Dr. Sue Thomas says the district has no plans yet for the building, saying the board will have to decide.

The historic brick structure, financed by the Julius Rosenwald Fund of Chicago, is one of more than 450 schools built in the early 1930s for black children in Texas. It is one of only 40 known still to be standing.

After desegregation in 1964, the school closed,

“It’s a historic building,” Espinoza says, “and it requires a lot of upkeep.”

While the final draft of the CBC budget was supposed to be ready for the board’s November meeting on the 15th, the auditors now expect to present the completed budget for board approval Dec. 13, that body’s last meeting in 2012.

Bill Clough is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 122, or at beepic@mySouTex.com.
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