Montgomery College’s president said the school needs county money to staff a new bioscience center and add full-time faculty that County Executive Isiah Leggett did not include in his proposed operating budget.
President DeRionne P. Pollard said Leggett recommended about $11 million more than the county gave the college this fiscal year. The college, however, hoped for about $19 million more, for a total budget of $244.4 million, she said.
The college plans to direct the additional $11 million toward increasing employee compensation and benefits, Pollard said.
The salary increase in fiscal 2015 would be the second bump for college employees after there were furloughs in fiscal 2010 and no increases in fiscal years 2011 to 2013, she said.
The remaining $8 million would go toward 38 staff positions in the college’s new Bioscience Education Center, which is set to open this fall on its Germantown campus. It also would pay for 13 new full-time faculty positions in various subjects, current nursing staff at the college’s Takoma Park/Silver Spring campus and marketing.
On March 17, Leggett proposed a $4.97 billion operating budget for fiscal 2015 that marks a growth of 3.4 percent from the fiscal 2014 budget.
The proposed budget provides more money for schools, police and programs for youth and seniors, including about $1.5 billion for Montgomery County Public Schools.
Superintendent Joshua P. Starr previously said he hopes the County Council agrees to fund the roughly $15 million Leggett did not include for the district.
Pollard is also asking the council to fill its budget gap, saying Montgomery College’s work is essential to the county and the college needs to accommodate students coming from the county school system.
The college needs the extra $8 million in part to pay for lab coordinators, information technology specialists, facilities staff and other positions to staff its new bioscience center, she said.
The college already has budgeted a tuition increase of $3 per credit hour for local residents, $6 per credit hour for state residents, and $9 per credit hour for out-of-state residents. Without the extra funding, Pollard said the college will consider a larger increase.
“It puts us in a very difficult position,” she said.
Pollard said the 13 new full-time faculty members would help the college fill and add faculty positions in disciplines such as math and science following losses during the recession.
The college would like to see about 60 percent of its courses taught by full-time faculty and the rest by part-time faculty, she said.
In several disciplines, she said, “we are not at that ratio.”
The extra money also would cover nursing program staff that the college previously funded through a state grant that expired, Pollard said.
The college also would partially channel funds toward expanded community outreach efforts in response to the county’s changing demographics, she said.
Council President Craig L. Rice (D-Dist. 15) of Germantown said council members will see what they can do to help support the college’s mission as they analyze funding requests.
The college serves students and the county, he said.
“It’s definitely a priority of mine when it comes to work force and economic development and also a core tenet of mine when it comes to education,” he said.
County Councilman Philip M. Andrews (D-Dist. 3) of Gaithersburg said that, of the several needs the college has raised, the bioscience center staff is the most important because the county wants to see building fully used.
On a possible tuition increase to help cover costs, Andrews said the county has helped the college keep its tuition “reasonable.”
“We want to make sure that tuition at the college doesn’t reach a point where it becomes a barrier for a significant number of people to go to Montgomery College,” he said.