Southeast regents raise student fees

Thursday, March 8, 2007

The minimum-wage increase has added to labor costs.

Southeast Missouri State University students will pay about 5 percent more in room and board charges on average next school year. They'll also pay more to park on campus.

The school's board of regents unanimously approved the fee increases Wednesday to cover increased costs for campus housing and food service.

The regents also raised student parking permit fees, partly to cover increased student labor costs associated with the statewide increase in the minimum wage. Fees will increase by $10 each of the next two school years for preferred and perimeter parking. By fiscal 2009, preferred parking will cost $155 and perimeter parking, $105.

Evening parking permits will increase by $5 each of those years, climbing to a total of $55 by fiscal 2009.

Kathy Mangels, vice president for business and finance, told the board that parking permit fees had to be increased to cover rising expenses.

Otherwise, expansion of the shuttle service to transport students between the main campus and the new River Campus, rising fuel and other operational costs, and the minimum wage increase would have resulted in the school's parking and traffic department incurring a deficit of more than $213,000, Mangels said.

The increase in the minimum wage adds about $45,000 to $50,000 in added labor costs for the parking and traffic department, school officials said. The university employs 40 to 50 students as dispatchers, ticket writers and reception/data entry clerks. In addition, the university has to raise salaries to retain shuttle bus drivers, officials said.

As for room and board charges, they vary by residence hall depending on the accommodations, said Dr. Dennis Holt, vice president for administration and enrollment management.

The total cost to students will range from $7,289 at New Hall, the newest dormitory on campus, to a low of $5,300 at Dearmont residence hall, which isn't air-conditioned.

Holt said the new board charges are expected to remain in effect for two years under terms of the school's contract with the campus food vendor.

The increased room charges will help pay for rising expenses in everything from utilities to elevator service contracts and installation of added security cameras at the residence halls, Holt said.

School officials project that more than 2,300 students will be housed on campus next school year, including 128 in private rooms. That translates into an occupancy rate of 87 percent, Holt said.

New regent Jim Limbaugh of Cape Girardeau urged school officials to look at increasing the occupancy rate if possible to generate more revenue.

Holt said the university could handle at most a 95 percent occupancy rate.

School officials said they need to keep some empty beds to allow them the flexibility to move students to other rooms or residence halls during the school year.

"If we get a flood of new freshmen, we can cut back on private rooms," Holt told the board.

The regents also raised rental charges for the school's 19 Washington Street apartment units by 5 percent. The new monthly rates range from $335.31 for a one-bedroom efficiency apartment to $453.66 for a two-bedroom apartment with balcony.

The regents adopted a $15.4 million budget for the university's residence life department, which operates campus housing. The operating budget for residence life includes $3.8 million for food service.

The board also approved a new mass communication degree in television and film. Provost Dr. Jane Stephens said that over the past five years students taking video production classes had expressed interest in taking classes in film production, screen writing and directing. The new degree option also will include courses in broadcast journalism.

Limbaugh, who was recently appointed to a six-year term by Gov. Matt Blunt, was sworn in at the start of the meeting by his father, U.S. District Judge Stephen Limbaugh Sr.

335-6611, extension 123

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