Fresno State gets $2.9m in fed funds

California State University officials Friday said they would release more money to the system's 23 campuses -- a move that eases Fresno State's plans for budget cuts next year.

The CSU will distribute $50.9 million in one-time federal money for classes and student programs. Campuses are expected to add up to 8,100 course sections and retain more lecturers for the fall term.

The windfall amounts to $2.9 million for Fresno State and reduces its potential deficit from $8.5 million to $5.6 million next year. The current budget is about $209 million.

That was one bright spot at a budget summit Friday, where Fresno State President John Welty told about 100 faculty, staff, students and community members that the school must continue downsizing because of eroding state support.

Even a $5.6 million cut could force the campus to eliminate up to 40 lecturers, cut 50 management and staff positions, and make other painful cost-cutting moves, according to a preliminary budget scenario.

The campus already plans to shrink fall 2010 enrollment to about 19,500 -- roughly the number of students in fall 2000.

Welty convened his second annual budget summit to collect ideas about saving and generating money. Suggestions ranged from renting vacant offices and cutting down on paper to expanding online class offerings and suspending low-enrollment programs.

Lisa Weston, president of the Fresno State chapter of the faculty association, was one of the participants. While some useful ideas and concepts were offered, she said, "I wouldn't say that a clear plan was coming out of it."

Fresno State is steeling for more cuts despite the governor's proposal to restore $305 million to the CSU budget next year and also provide $60.6 million for enrollment growth.

While that seems promising, some cash depends on federal funding. The state also faces a $20 billion shortfall.

State and CSU budgets won't be settled for months. Welty said planning in such an unstable environment is like working "in the middle of a hurricane."

But, he added, "it is important that we start our planning now." A tentative budget plan could be announced in mid-March.

This year, a $44.6 million funding gap prompted Fresno State to cut hundreds of class sections, eliminate some work for lecturers, chop more than 100 management and staff jobs and curb other spending.