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HJC pushing change in funding formula

March 06, 1997

By GUY FLETCHER

Staff Writer

ANNAPOLIS - Hagerstown Junior College officials are pushing for changes in the state funding formula for community colleges that could net them about $120,000 next year.

"This will be tremendous," said Michael Parsons, dean of instruction at the college.

Even though a $3-per-credit tuition hike - the 12th in as many years - might still be necessary, the bill would relieve the school of the necessity of making some difficult budget cuts, he said.

"It's absolutely essential," Parsons said.

Last year, the General Assembly passed legislation that changed the state funding formula. As a result of the new calculations, many larger and medium-sized community colleges in the state receiving increases in state funding, while smaller schools got no increases.

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Under the bill, which sponsor Howard P. Rawlings, D-Baltimore City, called "an issue of fairness," smaller schools such as HJC would be tied to funding increases for the state's five largest community colleges.

That would mean HJC would receive $3.47 million in state funding next year. Without legislation, the funding would be $3.3 million. The increase would be the largest in the state.

The school's actual windfall would work out to about $120,000, when this year's losses from the existing formula are deducted, Parsons said.

At a school with an annual budget of $12.2 million, that's enough to provide a little financial breathing room, he said.

"That's fine, because that means we don't have to get the money off the hides of our students and we don't have to go downtown and beat on the County Commissioners," he said.

The Washington County Commissioners provide $3.73 million in funding for the school.

"This (bill) will take a load off of them. They would love this," Parsons said.

It also would take some of the load off the school administration, which would have to come up with the money somewhere else.

Making cuts could be difficult for a school that has had to deal with its share of budget paring in recent years, he said.

"We're running as lean as I have ever seen," Parsons said.

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