Southeast Board approves $97M budget, considers draft agreement with TRCC

By Kathy Sweeney - bio | email

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - The President of Southeast Missouri State University calls the new agreement between his school and Three Rivers Community College to offer Associate's Degrees in the Bootheel a "win-win" situation.

"Our students, and we have 1400 students south of Cape Girardeau, will be able to come to Southeast", Dobbins explained.  "And then, if they decide instead of going for a four year degree first they'll go for a two year degree, they can take 12 hours from Three Rivers. We will then transfer all the hours they've taken at Southeast at those regional campuses and they'll be able to qualify for an AA degree from Three Rivers."

Dr. Ken Dobbins says there is only one real issue with the agreement.

"What happens if it's dissolved? And I think that the board's approved, our board's approved that this needs to be a three year test. Let's look at it. Let's improve it if we need to after the three years and then move forward."

Along with the new Three Rivers agreement, the Southeast Board of Regents also approved a new budget Tuesday, with a twist.  Following in the footsteps of other state schools, the board approved a student fee increase that will be immediately waived. It's a protective move designed to put Southeast a step ahead of the process, if Governor Nixon has to cut higher education more than he planned.  The operating budget for FY 2011 will be $97.2 million.

"We decided that it's very important because of the cuts that he made earlier of over $300 million", Dobbins explained. "We don't know what the revenue's going to be later so there's a good possibility that our appropriations could be reduced."

And, after a very clear look at just some of the $60 million in repair projects across campus, board members also voted to give Southeast leaders new options to pay for them, including the possibility of selling bonds.

"And this is the best time for bonds, because we have the tax-exempt bonds that we can issue and we have the Build America bonds that 35 percent of the interest is paid for by the federal government," the president said.

With each decision, the board members stressed the need to take matters into their own hands, especially when it comes to protecting and preserving their campus.

"We think that if we don't do it now, we will have catastrophe-kind of events. And it's going to cost us a lot more than what we're talking about now", Dobbins said.

Board members will not vote on selling bonds until later this fall.

In the meantime, Dr. Dobbins hopes the Three Rivers partnership will start benefiting Bootheel students this fall.

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