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Financial challenges ahead for Pratt Community College

Gale Rose
Dodge Globe reporter
Original floor tile on the gym circle and repairs to the gym roof are part of the ongoing maintenance to the Pratt Community College facility.

Financial challenges lie ahead for all educational institutions including Pratt Community College. Kent Adams, PCC vice president of finance and operations, shared some numbers with the PCC Trustees at their April 13 meeting.

"We're going to have financial challenges," Adams said.

College finances are already in place through June 30 but beyond that, there are many questions.

First of all, the county is going to lose $3 million in valuation for oil and gas. Other valuations went up but the overall loss is $3 million.

This would mean a $78,000 loss to the college. It would take a 0.662 mil levy increase to compensate for that loss if it came to that, Adams said.

Adams presented three scenarios ranging from a revenue loss of $340,000 depending on state financing and enrollment decrease of 17 percent to an increase in revenue of $36,000 if there is a two percent enrollment increase.

There are several combinations but at this time, enrollment and funding are both uncertain.

"We're still not sure how state funding ill impact 2020-2021," Adams said.

Right now, summer school and fall credit hours are 40 percent lower than last year but numbers are changing. A final 10 percent reduction may be overly optimistic. The college is doing a lot of things to avoid that.

Adams said if the college has to dip into their cash reserve, they have to be very careful.

"We don't want to take a two year problem and make it a 10 year problem," Adams said. "If you rely entirely on the reserve, it could take 10 years to build it back up."

Calvert said the last thing the college wants to do is extend their reserves or increase the mil levy.

The college has refunded $365,000 to residence hall students that had to move out.

If revenue cuts are too severe, the college may have to cut programs and people.

"If we have to cut, it will force us to look at things we ordinarily wouldn't do." Calvert said. "I wish I had better news but I don't. It's going to be a bumpy ride."

The annual PCC auction is the biggest scholarship fundraiser for the college. It has moved online and will run from May 15 to May 22. All dollars will go to scholarships.

The auction will be promoted on various social media. The college is working on getting the auction site up and running. For latest auction information, go to prattcc.edu and click on the news section.

In spite of the problems, the college continues its operations. The Higher Learning Commission visited the campus on March 9 and 10. The compliance report was good with no sanctions and Calvert was pleased with the report.

The HLC team does want the college to continue their assessments of student learning, continue working on reaccreditation of the nursing program and prepare plans for the budgeting process.

One method PCC uses to deliver classes is EDUKAN, a four college consortium that provides online classes that a single college couldn't provide.

Esther Lahargoue, EDUKAN CEO, said the college has received a clean audit for 2019. The total EDUKAN enrollment for PCC is up four percent. The out-of-state enrollment is up almost 16 percent while the in-state is down seven percent. Summer school enrollment is only 53 students lower than last year.

"We have changed our market strategy to address this (decrease in in-state enrollment) issue," Lahargoue said.

The increase in out-of-state students, primarily on the east and west coasts, is because EDUKAN is less expensive and more affordable than four year universities. The four EDUKAN colleges are PCC, Dodge City Community College, Seward County Community College and Barton County Community College. Of those schools, PCC has the biggest enrollment, Calvert said.

One of the few drawbacks for EDUKAN colleges is they do not receive aid for out of state students, Calvert said.

To help schools with the shift to online instruction because of COVID-19, EDUKAN is helping high schools and teachers get their classes online for their students, Lahargoue said.

Necessary maintenance on the facility continues even though the campus is closed. The Board approved $42,388 for A&R Roofing to repair hail damage over the gym, Room 53 and athletic offices. The Board also approved $47,732 for Neufeld Lorning in Buhler to replace the floor tile on the gym circle that is original to the building.