Once again, Shoreline Community College officials are working to give definition to the future while surrounded by a sea of uncertainty.
All campus meeting
An all-campus meeting is scheduled for 12:30-2 p.m., Friday, Feb. 11, in the PUB Main Dining Room. The agenda will include a presentation by SCC President Lee Lambert on issues and options facing higher education and information about anticipated 2011-12 budget reductions.
SCC's vice presidents and other senior executive team members have agreed upon general principles to help guide budget planning, including:
Seek to maintain college program mix and mission
Seek to retain quality teaching and learning
Reduce in instructional areas non-critical for degrees
Strive to minimize FTE loss and maximize instructional and administrative efficiencies
Continue to meet fiduciary requirements
“For the third year in a row, we’ve got to come up with a budget-reduction plan that is based on decisions that haven’t yet been made and are outside our control” Shoreline President Lee Lambert said. “To do that, just as we have in the past, we’re taking what information we do have and developing options to meet a range of possible alternatives.
“I know that isn’t very satisfying to a lot of people who want definitive answers. I’m one of those people. However, those are our circumstances and we have to move ahead to the best of our ability.”
What college officials do know is that Gov. Chris Gregoire has proposed a budget based on significantly less money coming to state government and therefore, less to the college.
“We are using the Governor’s budget as the base for our assumptions,” Lambert said. “Until the Legislature acts sometime later this spring, that’s the best information we have to go on.”
That budget pins Shoreline’s target number at about $1.8 million. However, that is likely to be pushed higher, according to Vice President for Administrative Services Daryl Campbell. A continued concern over the economy and the likelihood of an unfunded mandate on retirement benefits could mean Shoreline would need a plan for between $2 million and $2.5 million.
“Unfortunately, we’ve had a pretty good track record of anticipating where we’d actually end up,” Campbell said.
Lambert said that waiting for definitive word from Olympia just isn’t possible. “If we wait, we won’t have enough time to implement reductions by the start of the new budget cycle on July, 1, 2011. Waiting just means we’d eventually have to cut more.”
In preparation to recommend a range budget options, the college vice presidents and others have reviewed the extensive previous budgeting work and spoken with deans, labor representatives and the school’s Strategic Planning and Budget Committee, which includes members from all campus employee groups.
“My goal is that at the Feb. 11 all-campus meeting, we can share in broad terms the potential impacts of possible reductions,” Lambert said. “Between then and March 1, we will get input from across the campus and hopefully gain definition to at least some of the variables.”
Lambert said he wants a plan by March 1 to show the campus. “Even though I’m sure there will be variables that change things, we need a starting place,” he said. “Then, we can get feedback, make any needed adjustments and move ahead in thoughtful and respectful ways and still make the July 1 deadline.”
Lambert said he understands how hard it is to start a process that will likely change during the implementation. “As difficult as it is, as information changes, and I’m sure it will, we would still be able to pull back if the situation improves,” he said. “However, we can’t accelerate those processes.”