IVCCD weathers COVID-19 financial impact

T-R PHOTO BY ANNA SHEARER — Student services staff at MCC prepare disinfecting stations and signs for the safety of students and staff. The college district continues to deal with the effects of COVID-19.

Like colleges and universities worldwide, Iowa Valley Community Collect District is facing financial setbacks due to the pandemic.

“We’re just trying to be really strategic with every dollar we spend,” IVCCD Chancellor Kristie Fisher said.

She said part of the financial impact is due to a reduction in revenue. The pandemic caused a cancellation in some Continuing Education classes offered by the district. Some classes were also affected by MCC serving as a TestIowa testing site such as the motorcycle training classes that would have used the parking lot space utilized as a testing site.

The district also brings in revenue by renting out facilities to groups for meetings and conferences, according to Fisher.

IVCCD leadership originally planned to rent out the Orpheum, which would have served as a source of money for the district. When Marshall County Courts requested use of the Orpheum for judicial services, the district agreed to fill the need, only charging the county for utility and maintenance costs. On both counts –meeting the need for a TestIowa site and for a setting to hold court — Fisher said it was the right thing to do. But it has hurt the colleges financially.

Another source of revenue is partnerships with local high schools to offer college classes. Fisher called the schools “critical partners.” With high schools similarly facing many challenges, it is uncertain how the partnerships will continue moving forward.

The pandemic has also ushered in extra costs, including the purchase of laptops, headsets and other technology which allowed classes to go online this spring.

Spending also increased on cleaning supplies, with IVCCD buying them in larger quantities than ever before and purchasing more expensive products for the safety of staff and students.

Despite the many complications this year, Fisher said they were able to end their fiscal year in June at a good place, thanks to the hard work of staff and leadership.

“We tried to be really creative,” she said.

One way the colleges have done this is by postponing technology updates, which Fisher said will lead to them playing catch-up later.

She said they will take a similar approach going into this academic year, though the full financial impact remains to be seen. With no historical event to compare it to, it is hard to know the lasting effects.

Fisher noted in her approximately 20 years in education, “Never have I seen anything like it.”

The district will know more by mid-September, she said.

The colleges have received funds from the CARES – Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security – Act, which was signed into law on March 27. While this is a help, it does not alleviate concerns.

With the arrival of fall, another challenge has arisen.

“Our enrollments are down as are many of our colleagues in the state,” Fisher said.

According to her, the decrease in enrollment is a little more than 10 percent. As potential students face economic hardships and health concerns due to the pandemic, many are choosing to postpone higher education.

The colleges will offer face-to-face, hybrid and online classes in the fall.

Fisher said there may be a silver lining for people facing unemployment through no fault of their own. By taking classes, they could prepare themselves for jobs that are in need right now.

“Perhaps it is the time for some of those folks…to get retrained,” she said.


Contact Anna Shearer at 641-753-6611 or ashearer@timesrepublican.com.


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