Advocating for SCF Parrish and Comparable Funding

Guest Correspondence

Photo courtesy SCF.

Like many nonprofits, State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota’s (SCF) fiscal year runs July 1 through June 30, with state appropriations comprising a portion of SCF’s budget. During the summer of each year, we begin implementing our budgets for the new fiscal year, consider the impact of total funds available, and designate our legislative priorities for the upcoming session.

Our local delegation is very supportive of your community’s state college. It has helped SCF to obtain funding for capital projects, including the Science buildings at SCF Bradenton and Venice, and vital academic programs, such as nursing and our Coding Academy.

This legislative session, we are requesting funding for two priorities: $18 million to go toward phase one of SCF Parrish and $9.8 million in recurring base funding for the implementation of high-demand workforce programs and services, expansion of student- centered programs and services; and the recruitment of high-quality faculty and staff.

The total cost of SCF Parrish Center Phase 1 is $40 million — with the $9 million awarded by the state in the 2023 session and the $3.6 million SCF has committed to raise for the project, we continue making progress. We can begin the design and site development if we receive the $18 million in this year’s state appropriations. SCF’s Phase 1 goal is to construct a 40,000-square-foot mixed-use building that will house workforce academic programs, collaborative space, and student services offices.

SCF’s second request, $9.8 million in recurring base funding, aligns with the per-student funding model developed with the Florida College System Presidents and the Florida Department of Education last year. The model promotes the mission of the Florida College System, is designed to achieve equitable funding and recognizes each Florida College for its different academic programs, cost of operations and students’ graduation. It also allows each college to receive additional funding outside the model to address unique needs.

According to the model, SCF is currently among the state’s lowest-funded colleges. Noteworthy however, SCF is one of the most productive Florida College System institutions in degrees, both two- and four-year programs, awarded for the recurring state funding it receives. In 2022, we produced 2,081 degrees and averaged $16,066 per degree compared to state colleges of similar enrollment size, averaging between $22,468 and $35,612 per degree.

SCF has demonstrated our ability to be responsive, flexible and affordable – we have not raised our tuition rates for 13 years. I commend the faculty and staff for finding efficiency at every corner; however, we need additional support with increased expenses, including but not limited to insurance, utilities and an inflationary environment. Most recently, after due consideration and in the best interest of all students, we decided to evaluate SCF’s athletics program to develop a long-term sustainability plan based on current funding.

Providing the additional $9.8 million in recurring operational funding to SCF will allow us to provide our SCF students with resources comparable to students at other state colleges and reduce the need for further cost-cutting measures. Also, recurring funding would support local workforce needs by allowing SCF to accept every qualified applicant into our high-achieving nursing program.

Please consider supporting SCF’s advocacy efforts and students. Contact Jamie Smith, associate vice president of communications and government relations, at SmithJ4@SCF.edu or 941-752-5587 to learn how you can help.

Dr. Carol F. Probstfeld is president of State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota.

Photo courtesy SCF.

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