Thanks to all who responded for your thoughtful input as we strive to meet state mandates to reduce our budget both during the current year and to meet further cuts expected for next year.
We respond to many suggestions below. Sometimes more than one person submitted the same or similar suggestions through survey monkey, and they are combined where appropriate.
Thanks to all who made suggestions.
- David A. Sam
SUGGESTION: Eliminate “In-Service.” While this may be important, I feel that the money spent on this could be used for something of more value if it was given only for department managers and not all employees. Department managers should bring back ideas and information from In-Service. It’s not justified to close the college for an entire day and have all the employees more and or less just sitting around.
We feel In-Service has value beyond providing information. It’s a day of reaffirming our collective commitment to our mission and values and of building a sense of teamwork and belonging. In tough times, it is even more important that we invest in each other’s growth and development and also in ourselves as a college community. We will look for ways of reducing expenses for this twice-yearly event, but we are committed to our own learning as well as that of our students.
In this and in many of the cases mentioned, we are trying to balance the current budget while doing the least harm to our students, our communities, our faculty and staff, and our college’s future.
SUGGESTION: Consider an alternate schedule where the College is open fewer days with more hybrid and online versions. Consider lengthening class periods when the college is open to reduce the number of weeks in a semester. The students may like this as well, as fuel costs are high for them, too, and they would have to do less driving. Go to four-day work weeks.
Four-day work weeks are being explored but must be balanced with the needs of our students and the region we serve. President’s Council will make decisions regarding policy and practice and announcements will be made near the beginning of the New Year.
Student enrollment has an impact on revenues in both the short-term and long-term. Reducing the number of classes taught typically does not result in savings for the College and may harm students' ability to graduate in a timely way. Classes with low enrollments or with very high costs may be exceptions, and we are looking for ways to maximize enrollment in sections without harming student learning and success.
SUGGESTION: Out-of-state travel should only be funded for mandated training requirements or conferences.
We have already begun implementing this suggestion. The College has reduced funds available for professional development and travel. Professional development is not being eliminated, but it is being reduced. Employees will be encouraged to have on-campus activities for large groups rather than use limited funding for trips by individuals. The College President must approve travel for professional development, overnight trips, and travel over $500. Travel costs are limited to $500 unless preapproved by the President. Priorities include travel that is in-state or close to our service area rather than long distance travel, meetings and/or conferences that directly support SACS mandates and college strategic initiatives, and activities that produce the greatest learning for the greatest number of faculty and staff.
SUGGESTION: Temporarily reduce advertising.
Some advertising has been reduced, such as course-specific ads. Instead, a single ad is often used to meet multiple needs. Full commercial radio ads have been reduced to traffic or weather spots to cut costs. And employment ads have been steadily reduced because fewer jobs are available.
Advertising has been linked to increased enrollment, and cutting back too deeply could hurt the college long-term, after things turn around economically. And let's remember that advertising is an important way for us to fulfill our mission and strategic initiative number 2:
- Develop outreach efforts, programs, and services that fulfill the promise of our Mission for all residents of the College’s service area.
Schedule printing has already been reduced from several thousand copies to one thousand-- and students are being encouraged to go online for details. Future printing of the catalogue is already slated for reduction in favor of online options. But the state requires that certain data must be available in hard-copy form.
We continue to look for ways to move communications from paper to electronic positing, and other less expensive means of communicating. Not only does this reduce expenses but it also reduces our impact on the environment.
SUGGESTION: Copier use is excessive. At times, some students seem to be copying entire chapters of textbooks. Students should be charged for any copies made.
Coin operated devices on copiers actually cost more than the revenues we generate. They seemed to have served as a printing deterrent, though. We need to look at methods to limit student printing. Each department is encouraged to make suggestions.
We encourage all employees and students to print less and use double-sided printing and copying when possible, both to save money and to save trees.
SUGGESTION: Now that students have been switched to Gmail, we should give them reason to check it and save money on paper, printing and postage at the same time by sending out fewer letters.
Grades are no longer printed; an e-mail is sent to students to look up their grades on the Web site. We are also eliminating the printing of paycheck remittances and asking employees to use direct deposit and the Payline website.
SUGGESTION: Don’t pay for meals for employees at so-called “staff meetings.”
Food purchased for meetings and events is being closely managed and will be significantly reduced this year, and on an ongoing basis. Generally, food should be purchased when guests are asked to spend time with us over a normal mealtime and when employees' duties do not allow them to leave the workplace during the day to visit a restaurant.
SUGGESTION: Telecommuting could cut energy costs.
Telecommuting is difficult to implement because most of our jobs require face-to-face interaction with students, visitors, customers, and clients. The College is developing a telecommuting policy that might be effective for our operating environment and Presidents’ Council will rewrite that policy and make it known shortly. The College is also considering alternative work schedules that might be effective.
SUGGESTION: Automatic flushing toilets are nice. But many times they are flushing three to four times or more in one visit, wasting resources.
The automatic flush valves and sink valves in the bathrooms are designed to reduce water usage, saving money and helping the environment. A small number have been malfunctioning. Buildings and Grounds staff has already begun checking them closely and will replace the worst performing ones with manual flush valves, as appropriate.
SUGGESTION: Eliminate trucks for the maintenance folks to drive to and from work. This is only necessary when snow is expected and they should drive their own vehicles to and from their main campus.
Maintenance staff members drive their own vehicles to and from work and car pool whenever possible when traveling between campuses. Fewer than five exceptions have been made in which a maintenance employee took a vehicle home, and that was at the request of the College to accomplish a College objective or to save costs.
SUGGESTION: If we are paying for mileage for people to come to meetings, insist on the use of interactive video for those meetings.
Video conference meetings have been encouraged since the College has owned the technology. Staff members are strongly encouraged to take advantage of the technology to reduce travel time and costs immediately and whenever possible. The reduced travel time also reduces the waste of time during the commute.
SUGGESTION: Lower the thermostat when the heating is on, and even lower on the weekends. Cut grass to a greater height, and less frequently. Replace lamps in parking lots with more energy efficient ones.
For years, the College has been seeking to reduce our carbon footprint and be more efficient in our use of energy.
Utility usage has steadily been decreased over the past five to six years. The College had already been replacing lighting and electrical equipment with more current, energy-efficient technology before the Governor released two executive orders mandating energy reductions. In a six-year period, Germanna will have reduced energy consumption by approximately 25 percent. Whenever a building is unoccupied, the thermostats are set to 60 degrees during heating seasons and 85 degrees during cooling seasons. During occupied mode, the heating season thermostats are set to 68-71 degrees and during the cooling season to 72-75 degrees. We are also looking at ways to reduce parking lot lighting costs by reducing usage during late night hours. This must be balanced with security needs.
We will explore thermostat settings that reduce energy consumption further, as long as student learning and success is not negatively impacted.
SUGGESTION: Reduce office supply budgets through being economical and departmental sharing.
Centralized management of office supplies could be more efficient in many cases. This should be done by departments who co-locate an area where such sharing is not already being done.
We continue to solicit your help in finding ways to save money and become more efficient. Again, thank you for your ideas.