Northern Essex Community College Board of Trustees
Minutes of Meeting (Official) – July 1, 2020
A special meeting of the Northern Essex Community College Board of Trustees was held via a Zoom Teleconference at 5:00 PM.
Ms. Paley Nadel
Call to Order
Chairman Linehan called the meeting to order at 5:09 PM.
President Glenn introduced the new Student Trustee Samantha McGlaughlin. Samantha is a full time Nursing student and resides in Amesbury, Ma. Samantha thanked the Trustees for the warm welcome and is looking forward to being a voice for the students on the board.
President Glenn thanked the Trustees for taking the time for this special July meeting to approve the college’s FY21 Budget.
Trustee Paley Nadel noted that the Audit & Finance Committee met an hour earlier to review the proposed FY21 College Operating Budget, and as chair of the Committee presented the Motion to Approve the Northern Essex Community College FY21 in the amount of $39,468,779 as presented in the detailed summary report provided to Trustees. With that, Trustee Paley Nadel asked for discussion on the motion.
President Glenn noted that the budget presented represents a $4 million reduction from last year’s budget. While some of those reductions were taken from the college’s operational budget, some of the reduction were also accomplished through resignations, retrenchments, and retirements. In addition, through the generosity of nearly 90 NECC employees through voluntary unpaid leaves of absences, the college was able to achieve additional savings to meet the total $4M reduction goal. President Glenn noted that members of the college community helped to bridge this fiscal gap, and he noted “I cannot say enough about the way the college community has responded to the pandemic and the financial crisis – I am very grateful to members of the college community for coming together during this challenging time, and many thanks to the leadership team.”
President Glenn noted a couple of other features of this budget:
1) No additional fee increase: Back in April, the Trustees approved a small fee increase ($6) and that has not changed. This budget does not include any additional fee increases.
2) No Use of Reserves: This budget does not include dipping into reserves at this point. President Glenn noted that since the state allocations are still unknown, the budget presented tonight is based on the leadership team’s best planning estimates. While the college is hopeful that support will remain stable, the state allocation will most likely not provide any increases in support.
3) Increase in Bad Debt: President Glenn noted that the amount of bad debt was increased in this budget since it is likely to happen and should be planned for. While there is always some bad debt, this budget accommodates for a larger amount due to the possibility that students may have difficulty meeting their financial obligations to the college.
With that said, President Glenn noted that he would be happy to answer questions.
Trustee Forman asked why the line item for iHealth was reduced to zero. President Glenn noted that the iHealth has been combined with all of the other health courses and programs.
When asked if a 5% reduction is conservative/optimistic, President Glenn noted that this budget really reflects a reduction that is double that amount (10%) given the information provided from the state. He noted that the college is hopeful that enrollments are better than anticipated for summer and fall, but the budget plans for some significant reduction. In an effort to increase enrollments, the Marketing and Communications staff are working diligently to hone in on students who may not want to go away to school. In the end, a 10% reduction was the adequate place to start when planning for FY21.
Trustee O’Rorke noted that she understands that the state will be proposing a level-funded, 4-month, 1/12th budget. This strategy would allow the state to level fund and stabilize institutions for the first 4 months of the fiscal year with hopes that revenues will stabilize. The projected deficit would then be able to be addressed incrementally over the remaining 8 months of the fiscal year. She also noted that the Governor is hoping to not to have implement any 9C cuts in the fall. President Glenn thanked Trustee O’Rorke for the additional information and noted that the information was very helpful “That scenario would be very promising” he noted.
Lastly, Trustee Worden asked for a brief update on the culinary center and plans for opening. President Glenn noted that there is a transfer from the culinary fund in the budget (page 4) and noted that the college took occupancy of the space last week. Typically, the college would be offering cooking classes soon, but given the pandemic, that will not be possible. The current plan is to hopefully be able to offer those classes by September in one form or another. In addition, other entrepreneurial activity related to food production businesses will also hopefully start by September. Vice President of Institutional Advancement Allison Dolan Wilson noted that a marketing campaign for these programs and the space will commence very shortly and has been funded by a $10K grant from TD Bank. She noted that the college wants to make sure that it is responsive to the need shift and pivots to make sure we meet the needs in today’s environment (classes in food safety, ServSafe, etc.). The marketing campaign will speak to that shift, she noted.
With no further questions or discussion, Chairman Linehan asked for the roll call vote for agenda item 2a. Motion to Approve FY21 College Operating Budget (AFC-20-08).
On a Motion by Trustee Forman seconded by Trustee Cox, on a roll call vote, it was voted unanimously to approve Northern Essex Community College’s FY2021 Budget of $39,468,779 as detailed in the attached Summary Report.
President Glenn thanked the Trustees again for their continued support. Prior to adjournment, President Glenn noted the following additional updates:
1. Upcoming Sherriff’s Academy graduation will occur on-campus under a large tent.
2. Upcoming Police Academy graduation will also be held the following week in the same fashion.
3. Plum Island Kayak launched their new location in downtown Haverhill today.
4. Work continues on the Lawrence cultural and performing arts project (St. Anne’s Church), and the group is looking at the possibility of some state funding for the project.
5. The Board of Higher Education recently shared their study on public higher education and their budgets. The study was conducted in collaboration with a consultant EY Parthenon. The data notes that the system overall runs very lean and major disruptions such as the pandemic can be hazardous to institutions. The good news is that only a couple of institutions are in challenging shape for FY21. NECC fell in the middle of the pack and is comparatively in fairly good shape financially. President Glenn cautioned, however, that if the economy doesn’t recover, FY22 will present future challenges for more institutions. Specifics of the EY report have not yet been released.