The Lane Board of Education will meet April 28 to decide how to weather a projected potential shortfall of between $8.5 million and $12.6 million for the next school year that could cause the college to raise tuition, cut faculty and/or reduce programs.

The board ratifies institutional policies and approves the school’s budget. It’s comprised of publicly elected volunteers, and typically meets once a month.

Supporters of the labor union representing Lane faculty said they plan to assemble in the cafeteria prior to 5 p.m. and march to the meeting in Building 3 wearing red. The faculty union is locked in a collective bargaining negotiation that has dragged out over the past 11 months.

Lane Vice President of College Services Brian Kelly briefed board members on financial documents at the March 12 board meeting that outline the potential shortfalls.

Lane administrators said they expect enrollment at the college to decline by anywhere between 7 percent and 12 percent for the next school year. Because tuition contributes about a third of the revenue to Lane’s $100.7 million budget, enrollment declines can create large shortfalls. One of the potential strategies the college may use to cover costs is a tuition hike.

Lane students will pay $2 more per credit beginning summer term, bringing tuition to $95 per credit next year, after board members passed an inflationary increase.

The motion passed at the Dec. 3 board meeting 4-1, with Board Chairwoman Rosie Pryor abstaining from the vote because she pays the full-time tuition as a Lane student. Board member Robert Ackerman cast the single dissenting vote.

At the March 12 meeting, board chairwoman Rosie Pryor asked all of her colleagues, aside from an absent Sharon Stiles, what they thought of a potential tuition increase.

“I would like to say for the record, and to my colleagues, that I am not anxious to look at tuition increases because I just don’t think that when demand is declining you raise your prices,” Pryor said in March.

At $95 per credit, the college is getting dangerously close to $100 tuition, Ackerman said.

“It bothers me philosophically that we have all of these people coming in here wanting a raise in their contract, and that’s not reality-based. This is silly to be doing this,” board member Gary LeClair said in March. “We should, if anything, be saying we’ll keep salaries where they are so we won’t reduce people.”

Brian Kelly, Lane’s vice president of college services, said approximately 85 percent of Lane’s budget is spent on staff, and those costs are projected to increase.

Lane is projecting a $16 million contribution into its employee health care this school year — a significant increase from the college’s $11 million contribution during the the 2007-08 school year, according to numbers produced in January.

The board’s April 28 meeting will convene at 5 p.m. in the the Building 3 boardroom.