The Northern Marianas College has forwarded their fiscal year 2017 budget request to the Legislature and the Governor’s Office, asking for an appropriation of $8,636,935 primarily for personnel costs.
The college says the amount requested represents a “barebones budget” needed to “maintain its accreditation and keep its doors open.”
The budget report arrived on the desks of lawmakers this week and among others, request funding for 136 total full-time equivalent positions at $6.62 million.
It also seeks $400,000 in salary adjustments or an increase, explaining this as essential to sustain their workforce in an increasingly competitive market.
In its report, the college list 107 current FTEs amounting to $4.92 million; vacant FTEs with funding of $602,427; 12 FTEs to be reinstated at $694,375; and a total number of positions partially or fully funded by federal grants in the prior year to be fully funded by appropriations in FY 2017 at seven FTES, with requested funding of $347,911.
The college calculates total wages and salaries at $5.42 million; employer life insurance at $7,862, defined employer contribution benefits at $54,653, defined contribution employer contribution at $138,130; FICA benefits at $336,349; employer health share insurance premium at $489,742; Medicare contribution at $78,662, and subsistence benefits at $25,200, for a total salary and benefits of $6.62 million.
The college says there are nine recently vacated positions in this budget proposal that are “critical instructor and specialty” positions, for which the college is in the process of filling, interviewed for some, and is actively recruiting.
In all cases, the college said they expect to fill all positions before the fall 2016 semester.
The college says they have an additional 10 vacancies that are not actively being filled due to budget constraints, but add they have plans to recruit for these in the immediate future.
The 12 FTE positions requested for reinstatement from prior years is “in anticipation of projected enrollment growth,” the college said, and will be vital to provide full-time instructors and student support services to meet this growth in demand.
“These positions were previously eliminated in prior fiscal years due to budge constraints, and the college is now seeking funding to reinstate them.”
These positions are an assistant dean of academic programs, a budget officer, a database administrator, a financial aid counselor, an instructor for business, instructor for science, instructor for health and athletics, instructor for fine arts, an institutional researcher, a program coordinator for marketing, a program coordinator for college readiness, and a program coordinator for prior learning assessment.
Adjunct and overload costs
NMC is again seeking funding for adjunct and overload instructional costs.
The college says the yearly shortfall in government appropriations has led the college “to transfer the burden and expense of hiring part time faculty the students.”
The college said they hire an estimated 35 short-term adjunct instructors per year.
Student demand of courses is usually addressed by using adjuncts or overloads when a need arises because a lack of instructors, the college said.
When they can’t find qualified instructors, the college said they put the burden back on the existing faculty to cover the loads and courses needed
The college says they need at least 17 faculty to meet the needs of the students, when it comes to the combines credits taught with overload or adjunct costs.
“Historically, the institution has funded its cost for adjunct and overloads instruction from revenues derived from tuition and fees. However, the college uses its annual appropriations from the Commonwealth exclusively for personnel related costs. For consistency purposes, the college now would like to include the anticipated personnel costs of $800,000 for FY 2017 for adjunct and overload instruction,” the college said in its report.
400K salary adjustments
The college said request for salary adjustments are “essential for a sustainable workforce.”
The college explains that one of the reasons for a “show cause” accreditation status in 2013 was tied to their administrative capacity, which they said was difficult to sustain due to low salaries and lack of increases given to administrators and employees.
The college said they have since been successful in filling administrative positions and now needs to focus on retaining its personnel.
After evaluating and comparing the salaries of its staff, faculty, and administration with peer institutions, the college said that “not surprisingly” they found that salaries for almost all categories of employees at NMC fell well below those of its peers
As a result of this study, the college said they aim to ensure salaries of all employees are competitive and benchmarked to at least 85 percent of the average of peer institutions.
“To realize this goal, the college is requesting funding in the amount to $400,00 to be earmarked for staff and faculty salary adjustments.”
The college’s Board of Regents requests $124,174 for FY 17 based on anticipated costs to fund its operational activities.
The college also seeks $100,000 for the establishment of a faculty ranking system.
For utilities and other non-personnel related costs, the college requests $500,000.