Case 5.1: Heartland Community College


You have taken over as Interim Dean for the Wood Technology Program (WTP) at Heartland Community College (HCC). WTP is in turmoil – its previous director was forced to resign after failing to institute reforms to address the program’s structural deficit precipitated by a continued decline in enrollment and limited funding.

The College is considering eliminating the Wood Technology program. Industry leaders have advised the President and Board of Regents that this would not be wise given current labor shortages. Additionally, the Bureau of Labor data shows that wages in construction-related fields were rising faster than national wages. A recent survey showed that high school students and their parents viewed trade schools as credible as traditional colleges. However, WTP did not connect with high school seniors as they began to explore career options. HCC centralized student recruitment and admissions nearly three decades ago, and that process focused on recruiting students who would transfer to four-year colleges. To leverage opportunities, you expect to hire additional full-time staff to meet recruitment and teaching needs.

The Board of Regents voted affirmatively on your appointment and is willing to give you some latitude but expects you to formulate strategies to eliminate the existing deficit while preserving existing programs. The relevant personnel and program cost data, tuition rates, facility capacity, student enrollment, and staffing levels are detailed below.


Using this information, prepare a flexible program budget in Microsoft Excel that answers the following questions:

  1. Given projected enrollment and cost data, is WTP projecting a surplus or deficit? Develop a program budget to ascertain the direct costs, indirect costs, total costs, and WTP’s projected surplus/(deficit).
  2. At the time of preparing your budget, admissions staff were working tirelessly to meet enrollment targets. Assuming the final enrollment numbers are 20 percent above or below current projections, report WTP’s projected budget surplus/(deficit).
  3. Assuming staff can work up to the benchmark productivity rate, what impact would this have on WTP’s bottom line?
  4. You are considering eliminating the Boat Building program. The program is quite small, and operating costs per student were higher than those in Carpentry or Construction. Assuming all other programs continue to operate at baseline – what is the change in operating performance? Are end-of-year results better or worse?
  5. Assuming you have flexibility in proposing a budget for the Board of Regents to review and approve, what strategy would you recommend, and what factors limit the flexibility of your proposed strategy?
All staff are FTE. By law, Cascadia must pay 6.2 percent in Social Security and 1.45 percent in Medicare. Full-time staff are eligible to receive 8.0 percent in Retirement and Disability benefits. Insurance coverage (medical, dental, and vision coverage) was expected to be $650 per employee per month.
1. Salaries
Interim Dean, Wood Technology Program
Assistant Dean, Wood Technology Program
Secretary to the Dean
Admissions Manager
Community Outreach and Career Services Manager (new)
Career Services Assistant (new)
Boat Building trainers (full-time appointment, 3-yr contract)
$85,000 average salary per trainer
Carpentry trainers (full-time appointment, 3-yr contract)
$95,000 average salary per trainer
Construction trainers (full-time appointment, 3-yr contract)
$105,000 average salary per trainer
2. Facility Lease (indirect-cost rate to HCC)
$1.50 per square foot per month
3. Miscellaneous
Office Supplies
Utilities (Internet, Phone, Electric, Water, and Garbage)
Printing and postage
Equipment Depreciation
Projected enrollment
400 350 150
Productivity rates
Average students per trainer
50 50 30
Maximum students per trainer
70 60 35
Square feet per classroom
400 450 550 500 1,050
Space under current lease (square feet)
Cost rates
Material Cost/Student
$2,000 $1,500 $2,500
General liability coverage
Insurance costs (includes students, all FTEs)
$225 $225 $225 $225 $225
Insurance coverage (fixed)
Federal support (per student)
$500 $1,000 $350
State support (per student)
$1,000 $1,500 $1,000
Maximum tuition rate (per student)
$3,500 $3,500 $3,500
Total revenue per student


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Financial Strategy for Public Managers Copyright © 2023 by Sharon Kioko and Justin Marlowe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.