Spring semester

Chelsea Bickers, advising center office specialist, helps Winston Sanchez, left, and Antonio Granados, right, set up an appointment with Sanchez’s adviser in January 2017 at the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls.

PAT SUTPHIN, TIMES-NEWS FILE PHOTO

TWIN FALLS — It’s a big action item each year for the College of Southern Idaho‘s board: approving a multi-million dollar budget.

After a budget hearing, CSI trustees voted Monday to approve a $42.5 million general fund budget for fiscal year 2018, which started July 1. It’s a 1.53 percent increase over last year.

The college’s top finance official says the budget adequately funds CSI operations this year. Plus, the college has no external debt, has the second lowest tuition rates in Idaho — after the College of Eastern Idaho — and has a large fund balance.

“We remain financially well position for the challenges we are facing over the next several years,” vice president of administration Jeff Harmon told trustees.

One important factor in putting together the budget is student enrollment. “Enrollment management continues to be key,” Harmon said.

Dual credit enrollment — high schoolers who are earning high school and college credits simultaneously — continues to grow, while online and on-campus enrollment has declined, Harmon said.

Overall, he’s projecting enrollment to remain flat, compared with last year.

The budget also includes a 3 percent cost-of-living salary increase for employees.

And this year, the college will spend $13,100 per employee on health, dental and vision insurance premiums — an $860 increase over last year.

State funding provided for three additional full-time employees paid for by the general fund, and two more full-time employees using career and technical education money.

Here are some other key numbers from the budget:

$11.2 million: Budget estimate for student tuition and fees

$1.7 million: Lost revenue as a result of no longer being able to bill Bonneville County for out-of-county tuition for residents of that county.

That’s because those Bonneville County residents voted this spring to create taxing district to support the College of Eastern Idaho.

“With Bonneville County, we are undoubtedly taking a loss,” CSI board chairman Karl Kleinkopf said, and he asked how it will affect CSI’s budget. Harmon said he expects losses will happen over time.

$185,000: Increase in the career/technical education budget over last year, for a total of about $7.1 million.

$6.5 million: Property tax revenue from Twin Falls and Jerome counties, which make up CSI’s taxing district.

That’s a 4.5 percent, or $281,500, increase over last year. That’s largely due to new construction in those counties.

During their meeting, CSI trustees also:

Heard a presentation about a new Dual Credit Academy.

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The first group of 20 students began the two-year program this summer and are slated to finish by spring 2019.

Once they finish, they’ll have an academic certificate in hand from CSI by the time they graduate from high school.

Of the 20 students, all of them finished summer classes and are enrolled this fall. And 16 of them live from outside the Twin Falls city limits.

The college’s board heard emotional testimony from students, their parents and instructors about the impact of the exposure to college classes.

One student from Jerome cried as he spoke about how he gained back a desire to learn and how college classes transformed his viewpoints about the world around him.

Approved a Head Start/Early Head Start operations report.

Director Mancole Fedder gave an update on a new requirement that Head Start bus drivers undergo a physical assessment to make sure they can perform their job duties.

The change was largely the result of an April Blaine County School District bus crash that injured a dozen students.

Drivers were notified of the change during a pre-service training, Fedder told the board. “I can tell you there was zero negative response to this.”

Some of the employees were concerned about how they’d do on the assessment, he said, but so far, the two drivers who’ve taken it both passed. “Now there’s a lot less fear of the unknown with that assessment.”

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