Shoreline Community College President Lee Lambert speaks at the April 6, 2011 all-campus meeting. More photos
Shoreline Community College has a plan to cut nearly $3.1 million from the 2011-12 budget. Now, college staff, faculty and students are waiting for the state Legislature to say if that’s enough.
After the presentation by Lee Lambert and Daryl Campbell, questions were taken. Here are some of those, with answers:
Q – The University of Washington has said they will take more international students at the expense of qualified domestic students. Are those rejected students an opportunity for us?
A – Yes, but we have to weigh that opportunity against our own ability to serve more numbers during a time of budget reductions – Lee Lambert
Q – Can we make more money by renting or selling facilities on campus?
A- Renting, yes. In fact, rental income has tripled in the past three years. Selling is a problem because this is state-owned property and any income would go to the state, not the college – Daryl Campbell
Q – “Please sir, may we have more” of the Board’s reserve funds?
A – That reserve fund is one-time money and is the purview of the Board. They did invest some to fund a position with the anticipation of that position bringing in more revenue - Lee Lambert
Q – Why downgrade Vice President for Student Success to a dean when last March you said we needed a four-VP model?
A – When I arrived, we had six VPs. When I became president, we went to five, then four and now three. I agonized over this. There is some thinking on the national level that student services is getting closer to instruction, teachers are doing more than teaching. Maybe this is not ideal, but we need to be open as things get more challenging - Lee Lambert
At an all-campus meeting on Wednesday, April 6, 2011, Shoreline President Lee Lambert labeled the plan a “final draft plan” that includes some impacts to 36 positions. Of that number, 11 faculty members are identified for reduction-in-force proceedings along with two retirements and two contract non-renewals. Three administrators would be laid off, two positions are being downgraded, one vacant position eliminated, one reduced time and one shifted to non-state funds. For classified employees, there were no layoffs, but seven vacant positions are slated for elimination, four reduced time and one retirement.
Lambert said the details of plan could still be influenced by the political process in Olympia, statewide and local labor negotiations and other factors. Despite the label, the college must begin to move forward on the plan if identified saving are to be realized by the July 1 start to the fiscal year.
“These decisions are not taken lightly,” Lambert said. “We all share the same vision here, to transform and changes lives. However, that has to be seen against a backdrop of very difficult realities.”
Vice President for Administrative Services Daryl Campbell presented the numbers behind the plan and how the college got to them.
“We started in January with the Governor’s budget indicating a cut level between $2 million and $2.5 million,” Campbell said, adding that soon after, news from Olympia pushed the speculative number to $2.77 million for Shoreline’s share. On Feb. 22, the college shared a “preliminary recommendation” plan with the campus, for the purpose of a campus-wide feedback period.
“Things changed very soon after Feb.22,” Campbell said, referring to advice from the State Board of Community and the March 17 state revenue forecast that pushed the reduction target to $3.57 million. “The latest news is the House budget,” Campbell said of the plan released April 4. “We’re somewhat surprised; it seems to be similar to the Governor’s. We’re hopeful, but cautiously so.”
The Legislature is scheduled to end April 24, but many observers exepct the session to be extended.
While the cuts affect only the money allocated by the state, about $18 million-$20 million, Campbell also reviewed the rest of the college budget, another $20.3 million. “At the end of the day, after all the restrictions on those funds, we have about 10 percent; $2.2 million available to us,” he said.
The question, Campbell said, is how to use it.
“Do we create a ‘glide path,’ as some have suggested, to better times; as a rainy day fund? This certainly must qualify as a rainy day and that’s one possibility. I question the use of one-time funds for ongoing expenses, but that’s a discussion to have,” he said. Other possibilities include strategic investments in things such as the virtual college and international programs, uses designed to build revenue, he said. And, Campbell said, there’s always the idea of saving for the unforeseen event.
“We have to go back no further than last month for an unforeseen event,” he said. That event was the Legislature making further cuts to the current-year budget which meant the college had to send $460,000 back to the State Board. “That,” Campbell said, “was unforeseen.”
Lambert then went over where the college goes from here.
“I don’t want us to lose perspective that we are open access, we believe in open access,” Lambert said. “That’s why the virtual college idea is part of the mix, not exclusively, but part of the mix.”
Lambert said he also believes in face-to-face learning. “I believe the best learning occurs when you can engage the faculty. Nobody does it better than we do. I want to get to the place where we can start to grow the full-time faculty, but to get there, we have to diversify the revenue base and the fastest way to do that is increase the number of international students.”
Lambert acknowledged it is hard to make reductions while also making adjustments and investments for the future. “It is difficult to manage, but we have to do both. We will get there. We are all in this together.”
To help get there, Lambert said he would like to appoint a working group, similar to the structure used in the virtual college leadership team, to help see a way forward. “I’d like it to be in place by May and be done in early fall,” he said, adding that he has asked the Senior Executive Team to begin working out the details.