Rhodes State College faces uncertain financial future

By Sam Shriver - sshriver@limanews.com

LIMA — The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many colleges and universities to take a look at their financial situation.

The Rhodes State College board of trustees Tuesday learned their financial situation was still pretty solid but there is trouble brewing for the next fiscal year.

“We have looked at the reduction in revenue from the state instruction — money that comes from Ohio and they are in a situation as well, with the taxes that they’re not receiving,” said Dr. Cynthia Spiers, president of Rhodes State College. “In Ohio, everyone is trying to figure out how we’re going to manage everything that we need to manage with the loss of revenue. Now, I want to say that I am very pleased to say that we were in great financial position before COVID-19 and we are still in good financial position and through several strategies for next year, it will keep us in good financial position.”

The college did receive around $1.3 million in stimulus funds, most of which is going to support students to help them obtain computers and internet access as well as support for housing and food.

The school is also expected to receive $1.5 million from the U.S. Department of Labor to work with Apollo Career Center on a youth pre-apprenticeship program. They’ll know if they’ll receive the money by July 1.

Enrollment going into summer is down 2.4% but that doesn’t concern Spiers.

“(It) is much better than what I’m hearing from some of the other community colleges,” Spiers said.

Russell Litke, vice president for finance and business public service, told board members to expect somewhere between 5% and 10% decline in enrollment this fall and possibly a 20% to 25% cut in set-aside appropriations from the State of Ohio.

“For example, the 20% decline in our state appropriations is $2,187,478 … at 25% the reduction would be $2,734,347. We still don’t know exactly where the state’s going to land. It could be one of those numbers; it could be somewhere in between. We really don’t know at this point,” Litke said.

Spiers isn’t sure what to expect as far as enrollment this fall.

“When the economy is really good, enrollment goes down because adult students are staying and working. When the economy gets bad, people go back to college. This is an entirely new environment. We don’t know because we never experienced this. We don’t know how adult students will react. We don’t know how some of the students graduating from high school will react. You can’t look at just historical enrollment trends and theories previously, because this is a whole new venture,” Spiers said.

The board looked at four scenarios at how to move forward with a new budget, eventually passing one that takes into consideration a possible scenario as far as funding goes.

“We have reduced expenditures by $3,147,018. That figure is the same in each one of the scenarios,” Litke said.

The board also voted to take out a $5 million line of credit to help with the financial situation as they move into uncharted territory, while at the same time, continue with building the downtown project.

As the college looks at improving the programs offered at the college and getting rid of programs that aren’t profitable, the board eliminated eight associate degrees and six certificate programs.

Eliminated were the Associate of Applied Science degree in Exercise Science, Associate of Applied of Business in Paralegal-Legal Assisting, an Associate of Applied Science in Early Childhood Education, Associate of Applied Science in Executive and Administrative Assistant, Associate of Applied Science in Medical Administrative Assistant, Associate of Applied Science in Operations Excellence Technology, an Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts and Associate of Applied Science in Corrections.

Certificates eliminated include Certificate for Exercise, Paralegal/Legal Assisting Certificate, the Administrator Certificate, the Early Childhood Education Certificate, the Office Publication Certificate as well as Office Software Certificate.


By Sam Shriver


Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.

Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.

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