By Melissa Dunson

Missouri Southern State University’s budget cuts, such as the elimination of the men’s soccer program and the Child Development Center, seem to be over for this budget year.

But more cuts could be on the way starting in July as university officials look to cut $2 million from next fiscal year’s budget.

Bruce Speck, MSSU president, estimated Monday that the university will end the 2008-09 year with $2 million in deficit spending, despite such cutbacks as reducing energy usage, no staff raises, a moratorium on travel and reducing travel costs for several of the university’s sports teams.

Those cuts helped Speck fulfill a charge from the MSSU Board of Governors to cut $500,000 from this year’s budget.

Several of the recent cuts, including discontinuing the men’s soccer program and the day-care operation, and the earlier changes in how faculty members are paid for summer school and online courses, won’t significantly affect the budget until the 2009-10 year.

Speck made the decision independent of a Board of Governors meeting, board chairman Dwight Douglas said Monday.

“(The board) hired the administration to run the school, and we had communicated that we were concerned about the deficit budget, but they got to make the decision,” Douglas said about the specific programs that were cut. “The board isn’t going to micromanage the school.”

Douglas said he did have a telephone conversation with Speck a couple of days before he announced the specific cuts last week, and that Speck informed him of his plan.

“The board supports that we have got to get this budget balanced,” Douglas said.

The expected savings from some of the recent cost cutting include:

$126,000 by changing the way faculty members are paid for teaching summer classes.

$187,000 by changing the way faculty members are paid for teaching online classes.

$80,000 by shutting down the Child Development Center, a day-care operation, at the end of the semester.

No direct cost savings by shutting down the men’s soccer program. Instead, the program’s funds will be shifted to other athletic programs at MSSU.

After paying for the $2 million in deficit spending approved for this year’s budget, Speck said, the university will have about $3.5 million in reserves left.

Since he started the job last February, one of Speck’s goals has been to balance the university’s budget and rebuild its reserves. To make that happen in the 2009-10 year, Speck said, more budget cutting is needed, even if the state Legislature approves Gov. Jay Nixon’s proposal to not cut Missouri universities’ allocations by 15 percent to 25 percent in 2009-10 in exchange for them not raising tuition.

The cost-cutting measures that Speck said could go into effect later this year to help shave $2 million from the fiscal 2009-10 budget include:

Cutting salaries. Speck said every 1 percent across-the-board salary cut saves MSSU $300,000. A 4 percent cut to salaries could make a $1.2 million dent in the deficit.

Requiring MSSU employees to pay health-insurance premiums. Speck said university staff members currently do not pay anything toward monthly health-insurance premiums. Changing that could save MSSU $300,000 for the 2009-10 year and $600,000 each year afterward, he said.

n Increasing the faculty’s teaching load to 15 credit hours a semester, thereby decreasing the need for as many adjunct teachers. This could save the school an estimated $600,000 a year, Speck said.

Possibly offering early-retirement incentives to get professors at the top of their pay scale to step down.

Speck said all those estimates are based on the assumption that costs won’t go up, which they will, he said, and that the state won’t do midyear budget withholdings this fiscal year, which it might, he said. Speck said those midyear withholdings could be as much as 5 percent of MSSU’s total state funding, or $1.25 million.

“That’s another shoe that hasn’t fallen yet,” he said.

In addition, Speck said he doubts that MSSU will get its third and final payment from the state that was supposed to make up for historical funding inequity the Joplin university had compared with other institutions across the state.

Raises unlikely

MSSU President Bruce Speck on Monday said faculty members should not expect pay raises next year.

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