By Brandon Martin
The Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC) Board is requesting an increase of five percent in local funds from the three localities the school serves.
While PHCC received an increase from Patrick and Henry counties in 2018, the contributions have lagged overall since the Great Recession of 2008, according to John Hanbury, vice president of financial and administrative services.
“We still have not been able to get back to near the levels we were in 2008 and 2009,” Hanbury said. “We eliminated Franklin County from that equation, so that is part of the equation, but the other is the localities.”
Hanbury said the localities lowered their funding levels around 2010 in response to the worsening economic times.
“I’m recommending to the board that we request a five percent increase from all three jurisdictions this year,” he said. “I would like to see local funding for the college increase. We think that is a modest increase and when you calculate it on a per student basis, it’s a nominal expense for what the counties get.”
Even with the current economic strain from the coronavirus (COVID-19), Hanbury said the college’s finances are stable.
“All of the funds are in good shape and we expect them to finish the year in the black,” he said.
In fact, Hanbury said the pandemic could lead to surpluses in certain areas.
The “student activity fund is showing a surplus. This is primarily due to the fact that because of COVID, we’ve had very few student activities,” Hanbury said. “In particular, athletics which is a big expenditure item there. We do anticipate resuming athletics in the spring, so we will have some expenditures, but because of the lack of travel expenses in the fall, we think the student activity budget will show a surplus for the year-end.”
For local fund expenditures through Oct. 31, revenues exceeded expenses by $82,000.
“Our locality funds show a significant surplus because we haven’t really incurred very many expenses so far this year,” Hanbury said, adding that the numbers don’t even include the portion expected from Henry County.
“We have not received our Henry County money because I have to submit a draw-down request for that money, which I intend to be doing very shortly,” he added.
The main expense for PHCC comes from a $61,000 construction project to install new lighting in the Walker Fine Arts/Student Center.
“We expect that to begin at any time within the next couple of weeks,” Hanbury said.
In terms of the college’s profit-making ventures, there is currently a deficit due to a built-in preliminary expense.
“Auxiliary funds show a deficit because we start the year with a transfer of $37,500 to student activities support, so it takes a while for revenues to catch up to expenses there,” Hanbury said. ”We do anticipate that our revenues will be on target with the budget and that fund will be in the black.”
The college’s investment portfolio also seems to be flourishing, according to Gary Collins, who serves on the college board.
Collins said the school’s investments currently sit at $763,796, as of Nov. 16.
“We are up $44,851 just for this month so far, and that’s 6.2 percent,” Collins said. “Today, the market is up 425 (points) right now so it’ll easily be over seven (percent) if today holds. That’s very good.”
Hanbury said the original investment was for $600,000.
“We have grown this pot of money pretty significantly over the last two or three years,” he added.
While the college’s finances are in good shape, enrollment has dropped because of the pandemic.
Greg Hodges, vice president of academic and student success service, said that PHCC still falls within the national average.
“Nationally, enrollment declined in community colleges anywhere between 9-10 percent,” he said. “Patrick Henry falls directly in line with that. We are 9.5 percent down from where we were this time last year, in the fall.”
Hodges said those enrolled in traditional on-campus and distance learning programs haven’t been as affected.
In that area, he said “we are only down five percent. That may sound unusual to say only but in this environment, only down five percent is significant.”
Most of the decrease appears to come from dual enrollment of local high school students.
“When we factor in dual enrollment, we are down 21 percent from this time last year,” Hodges said. “Those students who have typically enrolled in those transfer programs, we are still able to enroll them; however some of those career and technical education courses, where the students would be coming here to our campus, have been imminently challenging. We are continuing to partner with our local schools to meet those student needs but those numbers are down, as they are across the country.”
Hodges is optimistic the dip in enrollment won’t cause any long-term damage to the budget.
“In anticipation of this (decrease), the college enacted a budget where we would be 14 percent down for the fall, so being 9 percent down means that we are in good standing from a budgetary perspective,” he said. “We also think that the national indicators are pointing to the fact that once COVID gets in our rear view mirror, instead of our windshield, that many of those enrollment losses will begin to pick up.”
John Hanbury, vice president of financial and administrative services at Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC), gave an update on local funds to the PHCC board during its Nov. 16 meeting.