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*Trustees hear budget-reduction concerns

BOTcrowd031611.jpg

A full board room listens to comments from a speaker. Others waited in the doorways and hallway to hear views on potential budget reductions.

 

Economic news

 

The State Economic and Revenue Forecast Council is scheduled to give the March revenue forecast at noon, March 17, in Olympia.

The Legislature has been waiting for these numbers to finalize the current year supplemental budget as well as better understand the level of reduction needed for the coming year.

 

Previous revenue forecasts are posted on the council's web site and the new forecast is expected to be posted about the time of the hearing at:

http://www.erfc.wa.gov/forecast/revenueForecast.shtml

The board room at Shoreline Community College was overflowing with people to hear comments at the March 16, 2011 Board of Trustees  meeting.

 

Four faculty members and four students spoke to trustees during the open comment period about their views and feelings on potential impacts at the college brought on by state budget reductions. For the past two-and-a-half weeks, the college has been gathering feedback on preliminary recommendations for cuts, based on Gov. Chris Gregoire’s proposed budget and advice from the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges. Those recommendations totaled about $2.7 million in reductions, including as many as 20 faculty positions, 7.5 classified positions and 4.5 administrative exempt positions.

 

No final decisions have been made on a budget plan for the fiscal year that starts July 1, 2011, but action must start soon, according to President Lee Lambert. Because of contractual requirements for both faculty and classified employees, personnel reduction processes will need to start before the Legislature votes on a budget, setting a reduction target for all government agencies. Lambert has said that those processes can be reversed, but are difficult to accelerate. An all-campus meeting is scheduled for April 6 to talk about a plan that the college would need to begin implementing.

 

“Shoreline is all about quality and I would like it to stay that way,” faculty member Diana Knauf said at the board meeting. “I may leave, not because I’m going to lose my job, but because I don’t want to be a part of this.”

 

Matt Lorenz, a student, told the trustees that there already aren’t enough classes and was concerned that fewer full-time faculty would mean fewer classes. Another student called Shoreline “a precious place” and said she valued the roles filled by full-time faculty members.

 

Faculty member Rachel David said she grew up in a family of professors an attended UC Berkeley. “I had advantages,” David said. “I came here not to teach students like me, I came here for the underprepared. The vision I hear for this college and this state, those students won’t be here.”

 

Robert Francis teaches economics at Shoreline and said the faculty cuts as outlined in the preliminary recommendations would take a way from programs needed by students who want to transfer to universities. “Pulling back on transfer, I think could leave a college that is not sustainable,” Francis said. “We need to rejuvenate transfer programs.”

 

Biotechnology teacher and Faculty Senate Council member Guy Hamilton asked what the vision of the college is on how it will serve its targeted number of students. “We see a list of cuts that add up to a number, but how is that sustainable?” he said, adding that faculty members want to be included in finding a solution.

 

A new student, Isaiah Airhart, said he’d just moved from Colorado, a state he said ranks 50th in investment in education: “We just passed Mississippi.” He urged caution when considering cutting teachers and the impacts on society. “If you start cutting teachers, you might as well start building prisons,” he said.

 

Board chair Jerry Smith thanked everyone who spoke, saying he empathized with their comments and feelings and paraphrased Charles Dickens with “this is the best of times; it is the worst of times.”

 

“I heard and appreciate everything that was said,” Smith said

 

Trustee Phil Barrett asked for help from those in the audience.

 

“We’re really between a rock and hard place here,” Barrett said. “Talk to your legislators. We need you to help us. (Shoreline) is a gem, let’s not tarnish it.”

 

SCC/Jim Hills

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