Floten: “We are still the face of America”

By Patrick Farricker.
Wednesday, BCC President Jean Floten delivered a “Budget Planning Update” at Bellevue’s Carlson Theater. The presentation addressed BCC’s gloomy revenue forecast, which projects additional cuts and reductions in the new year.
BCC is currently expecting an estimated 1.5 million dollar reduction, which could rise by another $420,000. Due to a struggling economy and financial situation, these reductions, in fact, result from the economic stimulus package; Governor Christine Gregoire anticipated much more money from the package than was actually received. This has led to deep cuts of various programs, including higher education. The state general fund revenue collection has further declined this year by almost 200 million dollars below what was anticipated. Additionally, the federal stimulus package is currently under review; the version that was before the Senate already passed, and it cut out most of the improvements for higher education.
Higher education takes roughly .042 percent of the state’s overall budget. Of this .042 percent, BCC only receives 5 percent of this share. Because of this, BCC has been left to make some very deep cuts, some of which include refinancing the art building for a saving of $510,000, taking one percent of our institutional contingency for another $500,000, and consolidating to get BCC out of its north campus lease. These are, of course, just a few of the many obligations BCC faces. Floten also outlined hundreds of thousand dollar cuts to instruction, student services,the President’s office, and administrative services.
“Community Colleges, in general, provide hope,” Floten said. “We are beacons of hope, we are the great equalizer, we are the egalitarian, the fairness that’s in higher education. We’re not through with good ideas and innovation. Innovation doesn’t have to cost money. Innovation is what we’re able to do within our spare influence and control to make things more efficient, [and to] go after opportunities…” Some of these ideas include: developing “refresher” courses for pre-professional students that go on to med school, bringing Chinese students to BCC (through a specially articulated program with UW Bothell, and making more online classes available at BCC.
In conclusion of her presentation, Floten also described the “bold change” that the American people are seeking. Yet this change, for many, doesn’t begin at the foot of a university, but rather with the state’s community and technical colleges. “We take everybody, irrespective of hardships, or obstacles, or prejudices that they have had to overcome,” said Floten. “We are the face of America. We are where innovation and creativity comes from. We are the people that get people to work. We are the colleges of the first responders. We are the people that help make America work.”