MCCA reports on how community colleges plan to cut costs

Earlier this month, an MCCA task force presented a report to the Missouri Department of Higher Education and the Governor’s office detailing ways that community colleges are keeping costs down.

The report was produced in response to a charge from Governor Eric Greitens that directed the Missouri Department of Higher Education to review administrative costs at Missouri’s higher education institutions.

Separate task forces were created to represent the 2-year and 4-year sectors. The MCCA task force was then broken down into four subcommittees that reviewed procurement and services, employee benefits, regulatory relief and data and benchmarks.

Shared Procurement
The subcommittee on shared procurement recommended Phone Bill/Utility Bill Audits, Student Accounts Default Management and Merchant Services Fees as three areas where community colleges should initially pursue cost-savings. These areas were chosen to pursue first because of the combined amount spent in the areas and the potential for savings. They would also require less standardization across campuses and have a minimal impact on existing jobs, current long-term contracts, and local businesses.

Employee Benefits
When it came to employee benefits, the task force found that a number of cost saving measures were already in place at nearly every college in the state, and that combining employee benefits across all twelve community colleges was not a viable solution. Three colleges have already joined consortiums with their local K-12 school districts, while several others have moved to a self-insured model.

Regulatory Relief

The regulatory relief subcommittee examined burdensome state regulations and statutes that cause the colleges to operate less efficiently. The group submitted several recommendations, many of which revolved around eliminating and streamlining duplicative and obsolete data reporting mechanisms.

Benchmarks, Data and Efficiency

Lastly, the report outlined ways that the colleges are already working to keep costs low while meeting increased demand for workforce training and maintaining the quality of programs. The report estimated that community colleges have already cut nearly $33 million through personnel cuts, hiring and salary freezes, budget reductions to all departments, closing locations, deferring maintenance and technology upgrades and cutbacks to travel and professional development. The report stressed the difficulty of balancing these tough decisions while still remaining responsive to community and service region needs.

The report is currently under review by the Missouri Department of Higher Education, but the community colleges plan to begin implementing the identified shared procurement measures immediately.

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