story by Tabatha Gardner, special to The City Wire
BENTONVILLE — Full-time faculty members at NorthWest Arkansas Community College can look forward to receiving a pay raise when they return to school this year.
The 4% raise is just one of several other expenses included in the college's 2013 budget passed Monday evening (June 11) by the college’s board of trustees.
The 2013 budget - $41.2 million - also includes pay raises for adjunct, or part-time faculty members as well as members of the college's staff. Adjunct faculty pay will be increased from $673 per credit hour taught to $700 per credit hour beginning with the fall semester.
Eligible non-classified staff employees will be given a 3% pay raise beginning July 1. Classified employees will also receive a 3% pay raise, provided it is approved by the state legislature.
The pay raises are imperative to ensure the school continues to be successful, said Marty Parsons, senior vice president for administrative services.
"We feel very strongly that the best way to take care of our students is to take care of our faculty and staff foremost," Parsons said, citing the school's turn-over rate as one of many reasons for the pay raises.
The school’s upper administration has seen a 33% turnover rate in the last 18 months, according to Parsons.
The 2013 budget includes $38.9 million in revenue sources, including tuition, millage proceeds, and state funding. That number falls $2.3 million short of the $41.2 million in estimated expenditures for the year.
The money needed to balance the budget for the year will come from the college's savings, leaving around $800,000 in that account, Trustee Hadley Hindmarsh said.
Parsons said school officials will need to continually look at ways to cut costs in the future, noting that tuition and fees will need to be examined annually.
Earlier this year the board voted to raise tuition and fees between 3-6% depending on whether they live in district or in neighboring Washington County. That rate hike is effective July 1.
"This is the reality of higher education today. This college has been able to benefit from that rapid growth and unfortunately that growth has leveled off," Parsons said, noting that it is time for school officials "to take a step back and look at expenditures."
Board Chairman Alex Vasquez pointed out that the pay raises will ultimately help save the college money because of the expenses associated with a high turn-over rate.
Vasquez said part of the reasoning behind the pay raises is so the college can continue to retain its faculty and staff while helping them grow professionally.
"At the end of the day, it’s about students. It's about quality faculty and it’s about quality staff," Joe Spivey, vice-chairman of the board said.
Spivey thanked Parsons and his staff for their work to ensure the faculty and staff were able to receive pay raises in a tight budget year just before the board voted unanimously to pass the school's 2013 budget.
The trustees also approved the go ahead to work with the Association of Community College Trustees as they proceed with the search of a new college president. Dr. Becky Paneitz is set to retire in June 2013.