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Budget cuts may spark MCTC tuition hike

Mar. 15, 2013 @ 11:25 PM

HUNTINGTON -- Board members at Mountwest Community and Technical College are considering a potential 6 to 8 percent tuition increase for 2013-14 to compensate for 7.5 percent in cuts to higher education funding at the state level.

In the fall, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin asked agencies to adjust their budgets for fiscal year 2014 because of declining revenues, a tighter budget and increasing Medicaid costs.

Members of the Institutional Board of Governors discussed a variety of ways to handle the funding cuts at Friday's regular meeting, settling on a recommendation of a 6 to 8 percent tuition increase. President Keith Cotroneo will present the board's proposal, which could increase tuition from $127 to just under $140 per credit hour, to the West Virginia Council for Community and Technical College Education by April.

"We have to find a way to address this 7.5 percent, or $460,000, cut in state allocations," Cotroneo said. "The council has asked the community college presidents to let them know what we're going to do by April 1."

Cotroneo said MCTC can increase tuition by up to5 percent without the approval of the council. Cotroneo also presented other scenarios to the board to compensate for the cuts, including a share approach of increased tuition for students and expenditure reductions from staff and faculty.

"The reality is, if the state is cutting our budget, we have to do something," said board member Sue Richardson.

Board members also discussed a recommendation by the council to make all campuses tobacco-free statewide. The item was hotly-debated before members opted to table the issue for a later date.

"I don't think we want to jump on this just because someone above us says, 'Hey, you ought to do this,'" said board member Jim Hale.

Board member and Cabell County Commissioner Bob Bailey said any attempt to make the MCTC campus tobacco-free would be "trying to give the students too much governing."

"I don't know if I'm for this or not," Bailey said. "I think if you pass this, you need to have designated smoking areas."

"I think we can come up with some ideas about how to satisfy the intent of this recommendation, but come up with something that is smoker-friendly too," said Linda Vinson, board member.

An MCTC committee will continue working on the issue, identifying possible areas that could be designated as smoker-friendly, Cotroneo said.

Any decision to move the campus to completely tobacco-free would require a 30-day comment period for faculty, staff and students to voice their opinions.

Cotroneo also announced that Daniel Figler has been hired as chief financial officer. Figler, previously employed as a controller at the College of Central Florida, assumes his new role on April 18, replacing the recently retired Herb Karlet.

Follow H-D reporter Beth Hendricks on Facebook or Twitter @BethHendricksHD.

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