While the potential impact of higher education cuts in Gov. David Paterson's 2010-11 budget proposal is still being reviewed, Jamestown Community College officials say that other aspects of the proposal could be helpful to the school.
Citing proposals by the governor that would allow State University of New York institutions more flexibility in their tuition rates and would give community colleges the ability to tap into funding to construct residence halls, JCC President Greg DeCinque the school may be better able to control its own destiny.
''The governor's proposed Public Higher Education Empowerment and Innovation Act has the potential to enable Jamestown Community College to play a greater role in planning its own future,'' DeCinque said.
DeCinque said the proposed change to the tuition policy will help schools such as JCC be able to give a set rate that will not fluctuate based on state needs.
''A rational tuition policy is essential so that proper planning can take place both on college campuses and among families who are anticipating tuition expenses,'' DeCinque said. ''In the past, tuition adjustments have come about quickly in response to financial crises within the state.''
The possibility that community colleges could access Dormitory Authority of the State of New York funding has the potential to allow the school to expand its on-campus housing. The college currently has two residences halls at its Jamestown campus and says it has more demand for housing than it is able to accommodate.
''DASNY funding could change the equation upon which we base our decisions regarding the expansion of on-campus housing,'' DeCinque said.
The news wasn't all good for JCC and SUNY, however, as the governor's proposal also included cuts to higher education. SUNY and CUNY schools will also see reductions to their budgets in the proposal, to the tune of $143 million. Tuition Assistance Program rewards to students will be cut by $75 apiece. At the community-college level, base aid would be cut by $285 per full-time equivalent student as part of the proposal, which aims to trim $56.7 million from budget.
The challenges that would be posed by those cuts are still being analyzed, a statement from Jamestown Community College said.
DeCinque said it is a stronger relationship between SUNY, new chancellor Nancy Zimpher and the governor's office has resulted in ''new ways of thinking that could yield benefits'' for everyone involved.
''I appreciate the governor's intention to help SUNY institutions cut through red tape and be both entrepreneurial and responsive to community and campus needs in ways not previously possible,'' DeCinque said.
The empowerment that the governor appears ready to give SUNY and its constituent colleges comes at a critical time, DeCinque said.
''If funding is to be reduced, SUNY's individual campuses - and community colleges in particular - must be equipped with the tools we need to plot action steps for a strong future,'' he said.