The Keene State College Budget Crisis Evolution - Granite Grok

The Keene State College Budget Crisis Evolution

photo c/o – The beginning of Keene State’s Enrollment Crisis
photo c/o – The beginning of Keene State’s Enrollment Crisis

Keene State College has an ongoing crisis. Enrollment is down. They are running a deficit.

In an article from this past September (in the KSC Equinox Student/Campus Newspaper) interim College President Dr. Melinda Treadwell said a lot of things, but this caught my eye.

“[We need to be] getting students excited to see what a life at Keene State could be [like] because they are shopping and we have a lot of competition, but I think we have a lot to offer,” Treadwell said. “I think we lost our story a little bit and we need to regain it.”

About that story.

Keene State is in Keene New Hampshire both of which are littered with wrong-headed liberal geniuses forever whining about green energy, social justice, and all the nonsense that goes with it. Those are all incentive enough to stay away, but ever since the riot in 2014 the college has had declining enrolment.

During FY17, the goal for enrollment at KSC was 4,200 undergraduate students. Treadwell said the current undergraduate enrollment is 3,733, which is “certainly too low.” Treadwell added she does not have a set number of students she is looking for KSC to reach in the future yet, but she wants to at least hit the goal of 4,200 that was set by the previous administration.

If you can’t get customers to buy your product, you’ve got a problem.

KSC Biology Department Chair Dr. Karen Cangialosi said“the money KSC needs should not be coming out of student’s pockets and needs to be gained from other sources.”

…the money has to come from somewhere, and, ultimately, we need more support from the legislature, from the government, the state government, to figure out a way to fund us because we are operating at a minimum right now.”

So the parents of students not attending Keene State, or residents with no “students” at all should shoulder the burden? Just get the Law to deprive them of theirs so you can have yours?

If I remember correctly, the previous college president blamed the money problems on the legislature too, but I fail to see how, if enrollment is the problem (and that’s because Keene’s lost its story) how anyone but the college itself is to blame?

That’s not to say that the State college system isn’t always begging for money. But the situation in Keene demonstrates precisely why free handouts are not the solution. If legislators ask taxpayers to bail out a failing product, what incentive does it have to improve the product and compete?

The answer is none.

Not only does administration have zero incentive but neither do the educators themselves. Educators who are getting a mixed message about whether layoffs are part of the recipe for addressing a deficit that system-wide budget cuts have failed to erase.

On November 29th, WMUR’s story is titled, Keene State College says budget concerns won’t mean staff cuts.

Officials said enrollment numbers at the college have taken a significant hit since 2014. But Keene State president Melinda Treadwell said the college is close to digging itself out of a multimillion-dollar hole. …

Treadwell said that even though the college is millions of dollars in debt, there’s no cause for concern.

“We do not have a number of expected layoffs,” she said. “In fact, we’ve not talked about layoffs at all. We’re offering voluntary separation for certain individuals who may have other choices, and we have no number set for that.”

On November 28th, NPR published a piece titledTo Cut Costs, Keene State Will Offer Buyouts To Faculty, Staff.

Keene State College will offer buyouts to faculty and staff as part of ongoing efforts to cut costs. The college may also look at layoffs in early 2018, said Interim President Melinda Treadwell.

So staff cuts were on the table Tuesday, but not Wednesday?

Staff cuts are inevitable; it’s just not the best time of the year to have to bring that up, whatever it is we are allowed to call “this time of year” at Keene State College.

To Tidwell’s credit, she accepts that this is something Keene State needs to fix.

Enrollment challenges are not unique to Keene State. Changing demographics across the northeast have translated to significant declines in the number of students graduating from high schools across the region. That’s forced colleges to be more aggressive in their recruitment strategies.

Keene State’s specific enrollment declines, though, have outpaced demographic trends, Treadwell said. She’s hoping to implement new targeted financial aid strategies and improve the college’s messaging to prospective students. She’s optimistic the college will emerge well positioned for the future. “We are not an institution in peril. We’re just an institution that needs to rethink its model,” she said. “I am awake at night over this, but I’m not worried about it.”

Will the new model involve “crying to the legislature” for a bailout? I’m guessing it probably will. But the State House should just say no. The State University system can’t stand it when the legislature tries to meddle in their business. They should play the same game. Make an example of them for good or bad.

If Keene State can find more efficiencies, retool their product and turn it around, other colleges can use their example. If Keene State fails, well, that’s an example too.

It’s the one every small business in the free market faces.

If you want to have a conversation about equality, well, there it is.