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CEDAR FALLS | Officials at the University of Northern Iowa said the closure of Malcolm Price Lab School in 2012 saved the university an initial $3.5 million.

Provost Gloria Gibson presented savings from the school's closure to the Faculty Senate this week. UNI reportedly saved $1.54 million from closing the Price Lab after some funding was reallocated within the university.

Gibson said about $2.1 million of the total savings automatically went back to the College of Education to retain some Price Lab faculty in the Department of Teaching.

"Those faculty have done an excellent job in creating a new field experience for our students," Gibson said.

About $300,000 was transferred to the Center for Educational Transformation established, in-part, to the direct field experience program for student teachers in local districts.

Of the $1.54 million leftover and transferred to the Provost's office, an estimated $768,000 came from the controversial early separation incentive packages for faculty, about $100,000 from phased retirement of faculty and about $600,00 from the Price Lab itself.

There wasn't time to conduct faculty searches and hires with the savings, Gibson said. Instead, that leftover money was infused into a number of projects on campus like renovations for the Rod Library, sustainability and diversity initiatives and a freshman program called Cornerstone.

A new policy to give faculty more access and input from the start of the budgetary process is currently under consideration by UNI Faculty Senate.

"We need to work very aggressively at this issue of share governance to make sure that decisions regarding resource in future budget processes get penetrated down very early to the faculty," said Chris Edginton, a faculty senator and director of the school of health, physical education and leisure services.

In an effort to bring more immediate transparency to the process, UNI administration is holding open forums on a proposed fiscal 2015 budget. Another forum will be held today at 11 a.m. in the University room of the Maucker Union.

On Tuesday, a group of about 15 attendees walked through a proposed fiscal 2015 budget and requests from individual departments with Michael Hager, vice president of administration and financial affairs.

The draft budget is based on Gov. Terry Branstad's recommendation that universities would get a 4 percent increase in funding, a tuition freeze and an extra $4 million special to UNI. It also factors in an enrollment increase to 12,200 students.

If all went according to this plan, UNI would have $6.5 million in additional revenue, Hager said.

After factoring in expected increases in salaries and benefits and other expenses, Hager estimates the university would have a $1.35 million safety net should enrollment undershoot expectations.

"If we have this one-time money available (President Bill Ruud) wants to run a mini-budget process ... take requests from across campus for one-time expenditures on campus," Hager said. "The process right now is clearly inadequate but hopefully this is a step in the right direction."

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