The pace of the state’s response to worsening economic news is accelerating and that change is being felt, and responded to, at Shoreline Community College.
Just Wednesday, SCC President Lee Lambert updated the college budget committee on the potential impacts of the state’s economic situation on the college. In that presentation, Lambert was concerned that the then-apparent timeline could be dramatically shortened. On Thursday, Lambert’s concerns were realized.
In a message from the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges, Executive Director Charlie Earl indicated two things: First, that budget cuts for the current year are likely to go deeper than previously identified, and, second, that all colleges should consider the potential impacts of a 20 percent cut in future budgets and share those potential impacts with the SBCTC.
Based on this new information, Lambert and vice presidents John Backes, Stephen Smith, Tonya Drake and Daryl Campbell, met Thursday to review previously identified provisions for current-year cuts. The college had already anticipated that a previously announced reduction target of $600,000 would double.
The group of senior administrators also looked at how a 20 percent reduction might be achieved and developed draft criteria for any process that might be used.
At the Wednesday budget committee meeting, Campbell, the vice president for administrative services, pledged to send any criteria that might be developed to reach such a goal would be sent to budget committee members for review and feedback. Campbell said Thursday that the drafted criteria would go to committee members on Friday, Nov. 21. While it is anticipated there will ultimately be time for local review, Earl’s request will also be met with an outline of potential general impacts sent to state board staff on Friday.
Lambert said that meeting the state board’s short timeline for information should not imply that decisions have been made.
“This is a look at potential impacts of such a drastic cut,” Lambert said. “I’m still hopeful that if this should come to pass, the college would be able to have time to make our decisions in as thoughtful a manner as possible.”
Despite the dire warnings on the budget, Earl also sent an outline of key messages to lawmakers on the role of community and technical colleges in the helping the state recover from the economic crisis. They included:
Community and technical colleges’ role
- We are vital to the success of our citizens and our communities.
- During times of economic hardship, students flock to community and technical colleges to gain marketable skills for a better job.
During these difficult times, the pressure is on us to help individuals and families enhance their financial stability.
We are part of the solution to Washington’s economic recovery.
- For example, at the peak of the state’s last economic downturn, community and technical colleges helped 17,000 laid-off workers train for a new career. Retraining programs worked during the last recession and we are here to do it again.
- It appears we are facing staggering budget cuts.
- We are in the process of taking a system-wide, strategic look at the impending cuts, focusing on cuts that have the least impact on students and the state’s economic recovery.
- Unfortunately, the 20% cut level - about $300 million - that OFM has asked us to consider, will impact students in several ways:
A reduction in the number of students served.
Tuition will go up, but how much is yet to be determined
(the Legislature sets the increase).
A reduction in programs and services for students.
The bottom line
- We are committed to helping Washington and its citizens move out of this economic slump.
- We can do this by making contributions to the economy. We’ve done it in the past, we can do it again by:
Providing the skilled workforce that Washington needs.
Helping those who are hurting the most during this difficult time through
education and training so they can become financially stable.
Turning out highly trained workers as we battle through this recession.
The door is open and now is not the time to shut it.
- Sixty percent of today’s jobs require education or training beyond high school and that percentage is rising. As the economy changes, skills must change. The largest number of future job openings will be in “middle-skilled” occupations which require some significant education and training beyond high school, but less than a bachelor’s degree. These jobs pay well and do not offshore easily.
- Community and technical colleges provide 80 percent of all middle-skilled employment training in Washington. Even now, during times of economic downturn, a quick glance at job announcements across the state shows demand substantially outstrips the supply of graduates in many areas including: auto mechanics, health care, transportation, and science technology.
- At the peak of the state’s last economic downturn in 2002-03, 17,000 laid-off workers turned to community and technical colleges for retraining. Within a few months of completing college, 80 percent of these workers had returned to employment and nearly half of those were hired into jobs that paid higher wages than the jobs they lost.
- Employment retraining programs got citizens back to work in the last recession and community and technical colleges are ready to do it again.
- Talent and skills determine the competitive edge in today’s global market, yet, in Washington, 400,000 working adults do not have a high school diploma and an additional 1.1 million lack education beyond high school. These adults need to gain higher levels of education and training to fill high demand jobs within critical industries in our state. In fact, the success of Washington’s workforce depends on it.
- Community and technical colleges will continue to prepare our state’s workforce for the jobs of today and tomorrow and help restore stability and prosperity.
- Historically, new industries emerge at the other end of a deep recession. With high-demand enrollments, community and technical colleges will be prepared to train the workers of tomorrow for emerging clean energy jobs, like wind and solar power and bio-fuels as well as those jobs that contribute to a green economy in industries such as construction, manufacturing, and health.