School suffers student budget woes

Reported by: Alejandra Aguilera and Samantha Neff

Pierce is projected to have a $3.5 million deficit for the year.

As a result, the Emergency Budget Task Force (EBTF) was created this fall semester to make recommendations on cutting down the deficit by June 2020.

Instructor of Psychology and EBTF member Angela Belden explained the process of budgeting. 

“Basically when it comes to budgeting, there are two things: you either cut or you make more money,” Belden said. “Cutting is very hard because that means a reduction in services to students, it could mean a reduction in staff or faculty, it could mean a lot of things and those things feel terrible.” 

President Alex Montevirgen says he anticipates closing the deficit gap as the year progresses despite being “well above” budgetary funds for the year.

“We were instructed that we are not going to be doing any massive hiring this year which is a complete turn from how we’ve done in the past,” Montevirgen said. “I believe, within the figures from the past five years, we have brought on several hundred new faculty districtwide.”

Belden said the EMBT recommended allowing enterprises to build solar panels on parking lot seven, similarly to those in parking lot one. This would generate a $1.3 million revenue with zero cost to Pierce. 

Since soliciting interested companies takes time and effort for reviewing district approved contracts, movement on the solar panel proposition can be seen next year if worked on “now,” according to Belden.

Academic Faculty Senate Secretary Jennifer Moses said the budgetary crisis is “multifaceted” with additional impact from “outside entities.”

“Our budget deficit is not of Pierce’s making and it is unfortunate that Pierce seems to be required to balance the budget by doing hiring freezes when we cannot solve the budgetary problems on our own because we didn’t create the problem on our own,” Moses said. “It’s unfortunate that at this point it’s all on us to figure it out.”