University System budget announced

In response to Governor Sonny Perdue’s proposed fiscal year (FY) 2011 budget, Chancellor of the Board of Regents Erroll B. Davis, Jr. presented the University System of Georgia’s (USG) budget requests to the Joint Appropriations Committee. The presentation was part of the budget briefings located at the state capitol last week.

As a member of the USG, Tech relies heavily on formula funds for the majority of its state funding. The USG uses formula funds to get funding from the state legislature, which it then distributes and allocates those funds to member institutions.

“Typically you can take the state funding total and we [USG] get about 11%, but it doesn’t always work out that way,” said Jim Kirk, Director of Budget and Planning at Tech.

The Institute receives 30 percent of its $850 million budget for Resident Instruction funding from the USG. The remainder costs are covered through tuition, technology fees and other revenue. Resident Instruction funding determines the base budget of the university used for teaching, research, facility costs and the President’s salary.

Based on the Governor’s Amended FY 2010 Budget Proposal, Tech’s Residential Instruction state funding will be reduced by roughly $19 million or about 8.2 percent. That reduction would be closer to $25 million if not for the $6 million of federal stimulus funding Tech received.

Throughout FY 2009 and FY 2010, Tech has eliminated a total of 250 positions, including laying off 96 people due to budget constraints.

“We’ve frozen new faculty hires. And if we were hiring, we have very little money available for start-up,” Kirk said.

The lack of funds, complemented by Tech’s growing student enrollment and stagnating faculty hires has contributed to bringing the student to faculty ratio to 23 to 1, the highest rate in school history.

In response, Tech has placed an emphasis on instruction as one of its most likely re-investment strategies if it was to receive additional state funds for FY 2011. The Institute has listed hiring additional faculty and teaching assistants to reduce the record high student to faculty ratio.

“We need faculty. Of course you can’t do your job without administrative support and all of that, but this is our main focus—working on that student to faculty ratio,” Kirk said.

Also adding to Tech’s elevated student to faculty ratio is the reduced number of offered course sections. Caused by the budget reductions, the reduction has resulted in larger class sizes.

“What we’re worried about now is we have $18 million for Georgia Tech coming from the stimulus pot. In 2012, that money won’t be available. So whatever cuts you’re looking at, it could be $18 million worse,” Kirk said.

However, Tech intends to expand its “Stimulus Backfill Reserve” to equal the anticipated stimulus funding loss by FY 2012.

“We’re trying to build up a reserve. We put a little money in each year. This year we put in $3 million. We’re not going to use that three million to hire faculty or hire staff. But it could be used for faculty start-up or equipment—one-time things,” Kirk said.

Even in this economic recession, Tech has and is seeing a number of institutional triumphs and accolades. Its six-year graduation rate is at 79 percent, a university record. Over the past decade, overall research expenditures at Tech have almost doubled, making Tech the nation’s top public university in engineering research expenditures.

The FY 2011 Budget will not be finalized or approved until this the end of this year’s 40-day legislative session.

The fiscal year includes all of the dates from July 1 of the previous calendar year to June 30 of the current calendar year. For instance, FY 2010 began July 1, 2009 and will end on June 30, 2010.