PCC adopts Fiscal Year 2017-2018 budget

Below is information for the community and the media regarding the College’s finances:

Pima Community College’s Governing Board voted June 14 to approve the College’s fiscal year 2017-2018 budget of $246.1 million, a decrease of approximately $1.7 million, or 0.7 percent, when compared to the current year’s budget of $247.8 million.

The 2017-2018 budget reflects significant progress toward aligning the budget with the priorities of the 2017-2021 College Strategic Plan, as well as the initial stages for implementation of the College’s Educational and Facilities Master Plans. Additionally, the College’s budget takes into consideration enrollment, revenue, and anticipated expenditure limitation concerns through the reduction of more than 100 vacant staff positions, decreasing personnel expenditures by more than $6.0 million.

Since December 2016, the Governing Board has been actively engaged with College administration and the community in preparation for the development and adoption of the 2017-2018 budget. The approved budget includes a 2.5 percent increase to wages and salaries for the fiscal year, as well as an additional $0.5 million allocation for enrollment services and marketing initiatives.

The adopted primary tax levy change will increase the primary tax rate from the levy neutral rate of $1.3484 to a rate of $1.3890 per $100 of assessed valuation. The College’s primary property tax levy will result in a $4 increase to the annual tax bill for a residential home with a full cash value of $100,000. The College’s primary property tax rate continues to be well below the average of its peers.

A presentation made to the Governing Board on Truth in Taxation and Adoption of Fiscal Year 2018 Proposed Budget is available on the College’s website.

Graduation season 2017

On May 18, Pima Community College recognized the achievements of 3,550 students at Graduation. The ceremony is the high point of a season of celebration that began in late April, when Aviation Technology program completers were honored, and continued to June 1, when PCC Adult Education for College & Career recognized completers of the GED exam at High School Equivalency graduation.

In between were ceremonies for, among others, the Fire Science Academy, our one-of-a-kind Air Force paramedic program, recognition of Honors and veterans students, and candlelight ceremonies for newly minted nurses and dental hygiene education grads.

Quite simply, it’s the best time of the year.

Educators are fond of data, and the numbers behind Graduation 2017 describe substantial success: 5,796 degrees and certificates awarded (many PCC students earn more than one credential); 878 Associate of Liberal Arts degrees; 150 graduates with grade point averages of 3.90 or greater; more than 800 GED completers; 63 Nursing graduates; and so on.

But to truly understand the significance of the events, count the hugs, family photos, tears of joy, and individual stories of resilience and grit. Each graduate has an amazing tale to tell, and each leaves a legacy that will resonate with family and friends for generations to come.

These moments validate the hard work and creativity of our faculty, staff and administrators, and inspire us, especially at the end of an exhausting, exhilarating academic year. Our graduates, who entrusted us with their futures and with their families’ futures, energize our efforts to ensure we always have a College worthy of their dreams.

Watch a video of Graduation highlights.

PCC Receives Highest Honor for Annual Financial Report

Great news from our office of Finance:

For the 25th consecutive year, the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting has been awarded to Pima Community College by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) for the College’s fiscal year 2016 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR).

The Certificate of Achievement is the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting, and its attainment represents a significant accomplishment by a government and its management.

The CAFR has been judged by an impartial panel to meet the high standards of the program, which includes demonstrating a constructive “spirit of full disclosure” to clearly communicate its financial story and motivate potential users and user groups to read the CAFR.

“This award is testament to the hard work and diligence of our finance team and to the College’s commitment to accountability and transparency,” said Dr. David Bea, Executive Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration.

Government Finance Officers Association is a major professional organization servicing the needs of nearly 19,000 appointed and elected local, state, and provincial-level government officials and other finance practitioners. It provides top quality publications, training programs, services, and products designed to enhance the skills and performance of those responsible for government finance policy and management. The association is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, with offices in Washington, D. C.

 

In perspective: wages, the FY 2018 budget, and our future

Below is a message I sent the College community on May 12:

 

This is truly an exciting time at Pima Community College. On Wednesday evening, our Governing Board directed us to move forward with significant, wide-ranging initiatives that have the potential to reshape PCC so that we can best serve our community for years — and in some cases, decades — to come.

Let’s start with the budget. Last night, the Board approved key budget parameters that put the final pieces in place for Fiscal Year 2018.  We can now move forward with publication of the budget and Truth in Taxation notices for public review.  The budget will ultimately be adopted in June following the public hearing and special Board meeting.

Wages

The Board, in recognition of the great work by employees during these challenging times, directed the College to provide a 2 percent incremental increase to salaries and wages. Assuming formal approval by the Board in June, this increase will be calculated on base pay amounts throughout the year.  While it is not technically an increase to base pay, the amount will be essentially the same. Its continuance will be decided next year when we have more information from a class and compensation study the Board on Wednesday night directed the College to undertake, and how the organization is doing in relation to its strategic and operational goals.

The Board’s direction is an echo of my heartfelt thanks to our employees, whose grit and creativity put us back in good standing with our accreditor.  Specifically, I want to thank you all for your feedback, questions, suggestions, and patience throughout this dynamic budget scenario and development period.  We are clearly rebuilding the plane as we are flying it — we are incorporating strategic and organizational changes within the budget structures to facilitate changes necessary for us to become a premier community college.

The big picture: challenges

To reach that goal, we are working diligently on fiscal and operational challenges connected with declining enrollment — our infrastructure is misaligned, particularly in terms of our physical structure and the number of people we employ.  We have been discussing and working on this for several years, and have made very real progress by, among other things:

  • implementing the College reorganization;
  • reducing the size of the administration;
  • setting target ratios that guide the authorization to fill full-time faculty positions;
  • adjusting tuition and other service delivery to ensure we are market-competitive;
  • reducing equipment purchases that are subject to expenditure limitation;
  • improving classroom funding models consistent with the new organization;
  • scrutinizing every staff position prior to recruitment, and establishing unit-based budget reduction targets.

That said, our current enrollment results in a very real need to significantly reduce our operational expenses due to looming expenditure limitation realities.  The good news is we have some time to adjust to the reduction; the bad news is that reductions are a certainty we must address.

The big picture: opportunities

At the same time, the College is undergoing a strategic renewal, as evidenced by the Board’s actions Wednesday night:

  • Approving three strategic directions contained in the final draft of the 2017-2021 Strategic Plan;
  • Committing the College to the goal of ensuring that 60 percent of Pima County residents age 25 and older have a certificate or college degree by 2030, aligning us with Governor Doug Ducey’s Achieve60AZ initiative;
  • Approving conceptual Educational and Facilities Master Plans, which provide a vision for where we need to go as an organization. Ensuring program quality, relevance, and sustainability; implementing effective pathways to student success; establishing Centers of Excellence; and expanding and integrating our outreach efforts create an array of exciting possibilities to focus on. The plans also clarify the need to reinvest into the College to improve program and service delivery, educational space, and equipment.

A healthy, balanced budget

When we originally developed the budget scenarios back in December, it was with these challenges and opportunities in mind.  The feedback we received from our forums and feedback tools indicate that the College community understands the need to resize and reinvest.  Approximately 95 percent of the responses we received supported either Scenarios B or C, which trigger budget reductions and reinvestment starting in FY 2018.

The budget that the Board approved for publication includes a healthy balance of these conceptual and strategic changes.  Specifically, the budget includes the reduction of 100 vacant staff positions (approximately $6.3 million), the inclusion of $3.6 million in revenue bond debt service, an increase in property taxes to the levy maximum (approximately 3 percent), and direction to fund enhanced enrollment initiatives (i.e., marketing, retention efforts) and the aforementioned class and compensation study.

No reduction in force in FY 2018

The reduction of 100 positions will be achieved through the elimination of existing vacant staff positions.  Approximately 40 positions have already been identified for elimination, and 60 additional positions will be identified during the course of the year.  The Executive Leadership Team will develop a new process for reviewing all vacant staff positions, and only critical positions will be approved for recruitment.  As a result of this strategy, the College does not expect a Reduction in Force during Fiscal Year 2018.  However, this approach will require all of us to be more flexible with how and where we perform our duties, and there will be active and constructive discussion about how to more efficiently provide necessary services with fewer people.

Lastly, the revenue bond debt service of $3.6 million will enable the College to have an infusion of approximately $45 million to take a major first step toward the implementation of the Educational and Facilities Master Plans.  The specific projects will be identified in coming months through a series of summits and discussions, and the actual process of issuing debt will require Board action. The revenue bond will enable us to make significant progress toward consolidating programs and creating our new Centers of Excellence.

I mentioned that the budget was predicated on foundational assumptions that include financial and operational metrics, and the budget makes good progress toward our upcoming expenditure limitation.  A commitment toward increasing enrollment will focus our energies on specific initiatives and tangible gains, and decrease the amount we will eventually have to reduce by 2021.  The proposed Fiscal Year 2018 budget contributes more than $5 million of progress on our expenditure limitation, which is within our targeted Scenario B goal.

A final word

When he was CEO of Intel Corp., Andy Grove coined the term “strategic inflection point,” defined as that which causes a fundamental change in an organization’s strategy. With our accreditation challenges behind us, and with fascinating new initiatives ahead, it’s clear we are pivoting toward a brighter future. Working together, we can reimagine PCC for the benefit of our students and community.

Celebrating Aviation Technology

Aviation 5

Like any PCC graduation, the Aviation Technology ceremony was a family affair.

I was honored to deliver keynote remarks at our Aviation Technology completion ceremony last week. The event kicks off the start of the best time of year at PCC, graduation season. Over the next month, the College will celebrate the achievements of students at about a dozen ceremonies, including the 2017 Graduation at the Tucson Convention Center Arena on May 18.

Aviation technicians are “the surgeons of the sky” – highly-trained technicians who can diagnose and treat aircraft so that day after day they deliver passengers and cargo safely to their destinations. It’s a profession distinguished by high academic, industry and government standards. Our Airframe and Powerplant students attend class weekdays from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. for 19 months, receive more than 2,000 hours of instruction and take 100 tests.

Aviation 4 (2)

With Governing Board member Sylvia Lee and new Aviation Technology graduate Dennise Ponce.

It’s also a profession with tremendous employment opportunities. An estimated 25 percent of Arizona’s 17,500 civil aviation workers will reach retirement age in the next two years. Some 98,000 additional aviation technicians will be needed across North America over the next 20 years; worldwide, that number will exceed 675,000.

Through the hard work of Academic Director Jason Bowersock and the faculty and staff at the Aviation Technology Center, the program has a sterling reputation throughout the  industry. When one of our students mentioned during a recent job interview that he was attending PCC, for example, he was hired on the spot.

After the ceremony, PCC Governing Board Member Dr. Sylvia Lee and I visited with graduate Dennise Ponce. Dennise is from Nogales, and is considering a career in the armed forces or working for federal contractors. [She’s particularly interested in drones.] For Dennise and the 30 other students honored last week, the sky’s the limit.

Building Community 2017

Giant check

A $428,000+ donation from the estate of a Tucson woman will help fund scholarships for aspiring nurses.

I had the privilege of speaking last week at the Building Community breakfast, a Pima Community College Foundation event in which students and friends of PCC share the ways PCC support has helped students realize their academic and career dreams.

About 200 people heard from Shekeycha Ward and Kyle Hughes, both of modest means. Shekeycha is an aspiring pediatric nurse; Kyle is studying to be an accountant and hopes to become a lawyer. They described how scholarships helped them pay for school, and how PCC supports students who are new to the world of higher education. As Shekeycha says, “College is different from the movies . . .  It’s OK to know that there are things you don’t know.”

I shared how the College’s North Star – student success, community engagement and diversity – is driving a wide range of developing initiatives. These include regionally and nationally recognized Centers of Excellence in Applied Technology, Healthcare and other areas essential to the economic growth of our county and state.

We also are building academic pathways that precisely map students’ education journeys at PCC, so they can save time and money by earning credentials quickly and efficiently.

Howard N. Stewart, president and CEO of AGM Container Controls, spoke eloquently about the need for companies to provide financial assistance to employees who wish to continue their education.

Rachel Schaming, Executive Director of the Foundation, and her team deserve recognition for bringing together community leaders and students in an enriching celebration of achievement and promise.

What a week!

Last week was phenomenal, and not only because on March 9 our accrediting organization lifted all sanctions from the College. On March 10 we held two events with the potential to shape PCC and community for years to come.

More than 100 business, education, government and community leaders joined PCC employees for Futures Conference 2017.  The theme of 2017’s conference is an echo of the first conference.  As in 2014, we are looking to define a handful of comprehensive priorities, or Wildly Important Goals (WIGs), to guide the College through 2020. [Another session of the conference will be held March 23. You also can offer your insights in an online survey.]

March 10 also was the inaugural Ethnic, Gender and Transborder Studies summit. More than 300 students, community members and employees gathered for a morning of scholarship and idea-sharing. The afternoon was spent discussing ways to create a Center of Excellence devoted to diversity, inclusion and social justice.

I am extremely proud of the event’s organizers, who have applied the Center of Excellence concept in a way that will make us a leader among community colleges. Moreover, the center has the capacity to give students a physical space devoted to data-based scholarship, alliance-building, and advocacy for the historically marginalized. Or, as one student eloquently put it, the center will be a place for “inspiring humans.”

The key point to remember is that while the College worked with our accreditor, we have been developing an array of forward-looking initiatives that go far beyond compliance. Meeting regulatory standards is of course an important foundational activity, but it’s only one of a range of efforts we are undertaking to achieve a greater end – becoming a premier community college.