In working closely with administration to tighten the budget for the new fiscal year, trustees at Three Rivers Community College agreed to a faculty and staff pay raise and a districtwide scholarship program during the board meeting Thursday.
College faculty and staff will all receive a pay raise effective immediately. Beginning next year all high school students in the college's taxing district will be able to receive a two-year college education for free at Three Rivers through a scholarship program similar to the state-supported A+ program.
Many reductions were made to operating expenses at the college, in some cases 20 percent or more, to work out the new budget, according to Joe Rozman, college interim president.
"It's a very tight budget in a lot of areas, but I'm convinced we can survive on this," Rozman said. "I'm putting my reputation on the line now. I'm only president for a [limited time], so you're going to have to be real tough with the execution of this."
The budget factors in several upgrades to existing college positions and some new ones that were added. It also includes a 2.654 percent increase on all base salaries at Three Rivers for faculty, professional staff and support staff.
In addition, all current employees at the college received a step raise of about 3 percent on top of their new pay rate, so they get credit for their years of experience with the college, something that has been done on an individual basis, not automatically, in the past.
Furthermore, adjunct teachers and full-time faculty that teach overload courses during spring or fall semester will receive $450 per credit hour taught, a $20 raise from before -- the first increase in almost a decade.
While the budget of more than $17 million was unanimously approved by the board, the districtwide scholarship program that was discussed during the summer passed with a majority decision after some more debate.
Board chairman Steve Cookson initially came up with the idea to fill in where state funding cut off and allow all high school students who meet high standards in school to have their tuition and common fees paid for by the college.
Three Rivers' administration made a rare move and provided no recommendations to the board. It let the trustees talk it out on their own.
The board voted 4-2 in favor of the scholarship program.