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CSU, FRCC leaders outline current plans for fall

FORT COLLINS — Colorado State University president Joyce McConnell and Front Range Community College president Andy Dorsey both plan to have some level of on-campus instruction this coming fall semester but with radical changes in place to try to prevent COVID-19 from spreading. The college presidents outlined their current plans to the Fort Collins City Council Tuesday night but stressed that they may change based on how the pandemic affects the area. State funding down, but federal dollars partially offset CSU lost about 58% of its funding from the Colorado Legislature after it was forced to cut billions from the state budget based on expected drop-offs in sales tax revenue. McConnell said the university is currently projecting to lose $30 million in tuition dollars and is spending an additional $2.1 million on retrofitting classrooms and lab spaces to maintain socially distant teaching. The university is also expecting a large dip in housing and dining revenue. However, McConnell said a priority in the new budget was avoiding any layoffs or furloughs for full-time employees and following through on scheduled promotions, along with freezing tuition for the year. “We felt that was not only important for our own campus but for the Fort Collins community to keep as many people employed as possible,” she said. However, federal dollars from the CARES Act has left CSU with effectively a 5% drop in state aid. Dorsey said FRCC is keeping its student registration period open until the first day of classes on Aug. 24, as many students may opt to take online classes at the cheaper community college and eschew the premium that comes with in-person instruction from a four-year college. His institution is projecting a 7% drop in enrollment for the coming year but thinks that number will catch up if nearby students decide to spend the year with remote studying. Dorsey said FRCC’s budget is even more reliant on state support and said large questions remain about how that will affect the college’s operations. “My focus is on getting this semester started as successfully as possible, then turn to that in the fall,” he said. However, FRCC hasn’t laid off any permanent staff and has paid employees and student workers their normal wages despite not having worked. However, both presidents said the fiscal pain will remain in coming years. McConnell expects down revenues through 2021 and 2022, and the base budget created in the pandemic is the base budget for the university moving forward. “As Andy I know will say, we’re in for a couple of years of a tough slide,” she said. Prepping for class McConnell said CSU will spend between $2.2 million to $3 million for COVID testing, monitoring and cleaning. Classrooms on campus have been spread out for social distancing, and empty large spaces such as gyms and theaters have been repurposed for lectures. Faculty and in-person students will also have separate apps to report their temperatures and any other COVID-related symptoms to the university each day so its […]
Source: BizWest

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