Valley’s timely transition from debt to surplus is a much needed boon as reopening physical classes becomes in reach.
Isaac Dektor, Staff Writer
Valley College turned its $5 million debt into a sizable surplus in seven years and will be investing some of the money in an attempt to reopen the campus safely.
According to the budget office’s financial reports, Valley was in debt to the district in 2014 and was deficit spending between $1 and $1.5 million every year, putting the college under accreditation review. Valley had to allocate a percentage off the top of its budget each year in order to repay increments of its debt. The district forgave Valley’s debt in 2018 on the basis that the college was able to balance its budget for three consecutive years.
“It took a lot of work, fiscal prudence [and] not using one time money to pay for ongoing expenses,” said Mike Lee, the vice president of administrative services at Valley. “That's really the key there: the hard work the college has done over the last seven years made us kind of the rockstar of all the nine colleges in the district.”
The current projection for the college's ending balance for this fiscal year is roughly $7.8 million.
“Valley College is the only college in the district with a significant positive balance,” said President Barry Gribbons.
Not only has the college eliminated its debt, but it has accumulated a surplus, part of which will be invested in conjunction with federal and state relief into campus accommodations that will allow for in-person classes to resume. Cleaning equipment and plexiglass shields are among the necessities that Valley is procuring.
Some of the surplus will also be used to create marketing strategies to drive up enrollment, which was hit hard even before the pandemic began.
“I’m working with the budget committee to invest some of the surplus in marketing and advertising to increase our enrollment,” Lee said. “The goal is to maximize enrollment in each class.”
The budget committee is prioritizing the college’s finances in order to optimize Valley’s resources while ensuring that the college does not end up in the same situation that it was in seven years ago.
“Take your own personal finance into consideration: you always want to plan for a rainy day,” Lee said. “So that's the thing, we need to continue to be vigilant and exercise fiscal prudence and not spend one time money for ongoing expenses, but at the same time invest it strategically and use that money to support student success.”