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Financially struggling Cayuga Community College sets sights on 2020

Gino Geruntino

Cayuga Community College's interim president is working on a plan to correct the school's recent financial struggles.

In his recent State of the College address, President Gregory Decinque said a depleted fund balance and overestimated student enrollment figures have helped put the college in the red.

At the end of 2013, the college had a $56,000 fund balance deficit. The operating budget for the Auburn-based college is approximately $30 million a year. Although the numbers are not good, Decinque says the college should be able to rebuild its savings.

"Assuming that we can keep our enrollment stable and get a little bit of growth, assuming that state funding is somewhere near adequate, I believe that in a few years we can have things back to where they need to be," Decinque said.

Decinque says now is the time to come up with a strategy to attract more students and revenue through a project he calls Cayuga 2020.

"This is an opportunity to decide what we want to look like in 2020," Decinque explained. "How do we ensure that we are meeting the needs of the communities we serve? If you do that, then I think you have a successful community college."

Decinque says to increase the school's fund balance, all tuition generated by extra students above the college's projections will be added directly to the account. He says the built up fund balance should be between $1.5 million and $3 million. He also wants to establish a scholarship program that will offer full tuition to area students that graduate in the top 20 percent of their class.

"That will help us attract good students, and good students bring other students," Decinque said. "So I think with that kind of an outreach and those kinds of things, we can really begin to turn this around."

The college has formed an internal group that will create a detailed plan for the future that CCC can plan for, and is conducting a thorough analysis of its financial operations.

Building projects like residence halls and athletic fields have also been put on hold, along with the plan to build a downtown theater in Auburn.

Although the school has had to make budget cuts, Decinque says Cayuga Community College has not reduced faculty or course offerings.