KSU president says Gov. Bevin's cuts could close school

Jackson Hall, Kentucky State University, E. Main St. Frankfort
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Kentucky State University President Raymond Burse says the governor's proposed cuts could force the school to declare financial exigency or close.

Burse, in a letter he sent Monday to university stakeholders, said either or both of those options could be on the table because of the governor's proposed funding cuts. At the start of the year, Burse said the university "was and is in crisis mode" and he noted that Gov. Matt Bevin's budget plan for the university marked a "very significant financial change in how we go forward at Kentucky State University."

Monday's letter said he had been given more time to analyze in detail what Bevin had proposed, and while they understand the governor's intentions, "his budget efforts as proposed will be detrimental to Kentucky State."

It is not that we do not want to participate, cooperate and help advance the state, but we, KSU, do not have the resources available to meet the many current needs as we move forward to address correcting years of improper processes,
procedures and in some instances, yes, negligence, as to duties and responsibilities," he wrote.

Bevin released his budget plan during his State of the Commonwealth Address on Jan. 26. The two-year budget plan included budget cuts for state agencies, including money going to state universities. The following day, the presidents of eight state funded universities, including Eastern Kentucky University and the University of Kentucky, spoke to Bevin in a conference call Wednesday morning to discuss the cuts. The university presidents said the cuts would present serious challenges -- short and long term -- for their universities.

Burse's letter said that KSU has major challenges that remain at the university. He noted that student enrollment was among the issues. He required students to pay their tuition bill because the university had $17 million in student receivables outstanding and "the chances of recovering those funds were bleak." Taking that position had an impact on student enrollment, Burse said. The governor's budget proposal has placed the university in a "precarious position."

"Kentucky State cannot withstand what is being proposed in the budget. If the budget as proposed is enacted, our options would be to declare financial exigency and/or prepare a closure plan," he wrote. "I do not like either one of those options and I am working hard to make certain we can do our work smarter, logically and effectively to ensure that Kentucky State University is here for another 130 years."

Raymond Burse's letter

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Governor Matt Bevin on Tuesday presented his proposed budget for the next two years and included a surprise with budget adjustments for the current fiscal year. His proposal goes to the state’s House and Senate for review. The Governor’s budget plan for universities marks very significant financial change in how we go forward at Kentucky State University.

Last week in my speech at the State of the University convocation, I stated that KSU was and is in crisis mode. The Governor’s proposed budget further increases the challenges we face, and it is vital that our campus community understands how the proposal will affect KSU.

The proposed cuts are drastic to our University. My team and I are examining all elements in our budget to determine the proposed state budget’s ultimate impact.
There are two key steps to the proposed budget:

1. The Governor announced plans to implement through an executive order a mid-year reduction in budgets for most areas of state government, including universities. Between now and June 30 of this year, our current state appropriation will be reduced by $1,054,332 (4.5 percent). I have instructed Vice President for Business Affairs Gregory Rush and the rest of my transformation team to work immediately and effectively to address these proposed cuts.

2. In the first year of the new two-year budget cycle beginning July 1, the Governor's budget proposes a cut of $2,108,600 to our state appropriation. In other words, this year KSU was scheduled to receive an appropriation from the state in the amount of $23,429,600. The budget, if enacted for next year, proposes lowering that appropriation to approximately $21,321,000 -- a 9 percent reduction. The following year, 2017-2018, our base would decrease to $14,221,100, a reduction of 9 percent and one-third of our base taken to create a performance fund pool to reallocate funds among universities based on some yet to be defined outcomes criteria.

The proposed budget will uniquely affect KSU as all know or should know that our enrollment is down over 30 percent (and with it tuition revenue). That lost revenue and the cuts in state appropriation place before KSU a challenge like at no other time in KSU history. The challenge is real, and we need all of our constituents working to help protect KSU as we work through our transformation.

Kentucky State has been standing strong for 130 years and we will continue to try to proactively transform this institution within the confines of a state budget which could be catastrophically detrimental to KSU. In spite of the hurdles and obstacles in our path, we must continue to become a destination University that is a high-performing institution.

Our University’s retention has improved significantly as it has surpassed 60 percent in 2014-2015, which is the highest in 10 years. Our University has many determined and ambitious students who have decided to earn 4.0 GPAs as their goal to achieve full scholarships. Our University has embarked on an innovative partnership with Frankfort Independent Schools that will be transformative for the city of Frankfort and the state of Kentucky. However, it is critical that our University embraces continued improvement to produce better academic outcomes and performance levels.

We look forward to working with Governor Bevin, legislators and stakeholders to help the University to succeed in its mission to increase enrollment, retention and graduation rates. I will continue to provide progress reports in my biweekly Gem letters and monthly State-Journal columns. If anyone has any questions, I invite faculty, staff and students to meet with me on the first and third Mondays each month from 1-4 p.m.

Thank you,
Raymond M. Burse

Raymond Burse

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