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* Lambert Briefs Board on Budget Issues

If there is a silver lining to the dark budget clouds that gathered Wednesday, Nov. 26, at a special Shoreline Community College Board of Trustees meeting, it is that college officials have already planned for the immediate financial challenge facing the college.

 

SCC President Lee Lambert told the trustees that the college has been given a new budget-reduction target for the current year of $1.044 million. “The good news is that we anticipated this trend,” Lambert said. “We had already planned on how to get to higher number, $1.25 million.”

 

Lambert learned of the $1.044 million target after a Nov. 25 meeting in Olympia with the other college presidents and staff from the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges. SBCTC received a systemwide reduction from the state Office of Financial Management (OFM) following a Nov. 25 announcement by Gov. Chris Gregoire that another $260 million must be cut from the overall state budget.

 

A steadily worsening state economy has made the budget reduction has been a moving target. In August, SCC’s goal was around $220,000. That became $594,000 in October and now Tuesday’s number.

 

SCC Budget Director Holly Woodmansee gave the trustees an outline of how the college would achieve the $1.044 million cuts for this year, primarily through presently unfilled positions, cutting discretionary spending and percentage reductions in current budgets. “No employees would be losing their jobs in this current budget review,” Woodmansee said.

 

The clouds got darker when the meeting tried to peer at all the variables that might impact the 2009-10 budget.

 

Besides getting immediate cut targets, presidents at the Olympia meeting were also directed to start planning for a 20 percent budget cut for the coming two years.

 

“As it stands now, the state is looking at $6 billion problem for the next biennium,” Lambert told the trustees. “If you took all of (higher education) offline, it doesn’t address that problem.”

 

While no one is contemplating doing away with all of higher education, Lambert said the impact of a 20 percent cut statewide would be huge. “Our base operating budget is about $25 million, so 20 percent is $5 million for us,” he said. “This would not be the same college anymore. Not just Shoreline Community College, every college in the state.”

 

While the present directive from OFM doesn’t address the question of enrollment levels, Lambert said he believes they would have to be reduced under such a drastic budget cut.

 

“(Twenty percent) represents a decrease in student allotment of 1,300 of 1,350 FTEs (full-time equivalents),” Lambert told the trustees, noting the college is now allotted just under 5,200 FTEs. “Basically, we could be rebased below 4,000 FTEs.”

 

Because of legislative session timing, Lambert said he’s worried that a final state budget and the attendant targets for SCC might not be available in time to make the necessary changes to achieve a 20 percent cut, saying, “Some have speculated it could be as late as June.”

 

“The problem is, if we don’t start soon, we can’t get there,” Lambert said. “I think we have to plan for layoffs starting in the middle of Winter Quarter. We can always recall people, but we can’t cut a program once it starts.”

 

Board President Shoubee Liaw asked why, if the college had already found ways to trim $1 million, might such action be necessary.

 

“Because we can’t go into next year with the current infrastructure and meet a $5 million cut,” Lambert said.

 

A comment by Trustee Jerry Smith seemed to sum up the issues at hand. “(The goal) is to save the institution,” Smith said. “The question is, what that institution will look like. It won’t be the same institution.”

 

After the trustees meeting, Lambert hosted a brown bag lunch discussion in the PUB Quiet Dining Room.  Lambert presented the same information as in the trustees meeting, fielding questions and receiving suggestions from employees.

 

Among the points raised, Lambert told the lunch group that he thinks:

-          An emergency declaration from Gov. Gregoire is unlikely.

-          Consolidation of colleges might be in the system’s future, but that would take time and work and probably not an immediate answer. Lambert did say he meeting next week with neighboring college presidents to discuss budget-related issues.

-          Eliminating Summer Quarter might be possible, but it may also be needed to meet whatever FTE level is mandated by the state.

-          The initial cost of faculty tenure buyout may now be too expensive, given the size of the potential cuts.

-           

At the lunch gathering, Vice President of Academic Affairs John Backes implored faculty and all employees to stay focused on the mission of serving students. “Our message must be, ‘We are here for you. That’s what we do. That’s all we do.’”

* Lambert to Olympia on Nov. 25

Information regarding the apparently deepening state and federal economic crisis continues to unfold as do the potential strategies to deal with it.

 

Late Friday, Nov. 21, a college budget committee representative met with Vice President for Administrative Services Daryl Campbell. As promised earlier in the week, Campbell shared an outline of already implemented and potential budget reductions for the current year, as well as draft criteria that could be used for anticipated deeper cuts in the 2009 budget cycle. Budget committee members are now reviewing the information. Feedback to Campbell and the rest of the Presidents Senior Executive Team is expected in the coming weeks.

 

On Tuesday, Nov. 25, Shoreline Community College President Lee Lambert will join all other community and technical college presidents in Olympia for a meeting staff from the State Board of Technical Colleges and perhaps other state officials. At this point, the meeting is likely to include a briefing on the present situation (see earlier posts), review of potential impacts and responses and discussion with state staff.

 

On Wednesday, Nov. 26, a special meeting of the SCC Board of Trustees has been scheduled for 10-11 a.m. in the Board Room. “The trustees have asked us to brief them on the situation and what we’re doing in response,” Lambert said. The one-hour meeting is open, but the opportunity comment may be limited to allow for a thorough presentation and discussion by the trustees in the allotted time, he said.

 

* Timeline Shortens for Budget Reaction

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.

 

Budget cuts

 

- 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.


Background

- 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.

* Budget concerns front and center

Shoreline Community College administrators, faculty and staff are moving quickly to respond to real and anticipated impacts of the rapidly changing state and federal economic climate.

 

On Tuesday, Nov. 18, the College Council approved an all-campus meeting set for 12:30-2 p.m., Monday, Dec. 8. Due to the anticipated interest, the meeting will be in the PUB Main Dining Room, which can accommodate about 300 people. While not an ideal date for faculty preparing for finals that start the next day, the council decided a chance for dialogue on the unprecedented economic downturn and possible impacts to the college outweighed other factors. The meeting will be videotaped for those who can’t attend. The council includes representatives from all campus constituencies.

 

At their regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 19, members of the college budget committee heard grim news from SCC President Lee Lambert. Earlier in the day, Lambert and other college presidents participated in a conference call with State Board of Community and Technical Colleges Executive Director Charlie Earl.

 

Lambert outlined recent budgetary news the college has received from the state board. He noted that this past summer, it appeared the college would need to identify savings of $200,000-$300,000. “We looked at the situation, anticipating that problem would grow, and went further,” Lambert said. “We identified about $600,000 and it was a good thing we did.”

 

Since then, Lambert said, economic news has worsened and noted that also on Wednesday, Nov. 19, the state released a new economic forecast.

 

“Today, unfortunately, the number has doubled again,” Lambert told committee members of the forecast that has implications for the current year budget. And, he said, Earl told the presidents to be prepared to look at massive reductions for the next biennium. “Depending on the cuts, that number could go as high as 20-30 percent.”

 

Lambert said it isn’t clear just how Shoreline and the entire community college system would achieve such a deep cut. “What is clear, at the end of the day, the state has a $5 billion problem and we will get to that number.”

 

Lambert said there are two problems, one for this budget year and one for the coming biennium that starts July 1, 2009.

 

“If things stay the way they are, we’ve already identified about $1.2 million for this (academic) year,” he said, meaning that as of now, that could see the college through the current budget. The President’s Senior Executive Team (PSET) identified those savings primarily through presently unfilled positions, cutting discretionary spending and percentage reductions in current budgets.

 

For the second problem, Lambert asked the committee for help, possibly in very short order.

 

“Charlie Earl may come to us very soon and ask how we would cut 30 percent for the coming biennium,” Lambert said. “What I’m asking for is help on the process in a short timeframe. This may come before the (Dec. 8) all-campus meeting.”

 

Lambert said that no decisions have been made, but all options may be on the table. He said there has been some talk about combining or even closing some colleges. “At the 20-30 percent level, some of the smaller colleges couldn't survive," he said.

 

“I just hope we have the opportunity to decide for ourselves. It may be that they tell us where to cut,” he said. “What I’m hoping will happen is the state says, ‘Here’s the cut number,’ then the state board says, ‘Here’s your part,’ and then the college gets to decide how to get there.”

 

Budget committee member and faculty member Guy Hamilton asked with such a deep potential cut, would the state set lower student target numbers, or “rebase” the college.

 

“Most of the presidents would say, ‘Yes, you’ve got to rebase us,’ but I don’t know,” Lambert said. He added that assuming a 30 percent cut, that would leave SCC with about 3,500 student FTEs, or full-time equivalents. The college is currently funded for about 5,200 FTEs.

 

If the college is forced into limiting enrollment, committee and faculty member Bob Francis asked, “Is there any infrastructure in place to say ‘no’ to students?

 

“No,” Lambert said. “It might be first-come, first-served. We do have some selective programs now such as nursing and automotive. This would be a systemwide problem.”

 

Lambert said he’s not asking the committee to suggest cuts, but either help establish criteria for cuts, or review criteria suggested by the administration.

 

Susan Hoyne, a committee member and Dean of Science/Automotive and Manufacturing, said the deans and Vice President of Academic Affairs John Backes have been working to review all academic programs in terms of students served and costs. Hoyne noted that with nearly 85 percent of the college budget going to personnel, a 30 percent cut would undoubtedly impact people and instruction.

 

Earlier, Lambert said such program information is important, but that other factors should be considered, too. “Cuts in one area may hurt us somewhere else we don’t want to cut,” he said.

 

At the Nov. 19 meeting, budget committee chair and faculty member Carla Hogan appointed a subcommittee to immediately begin working with Lambert, Vice President for Administrative Services Daryl Campbell and the rest of PSET on criteria for 2009-10 budget decisions.

Shoreline Foundation has hearty breakfast

SCCBreakfastswisher.jpgA menu of solid support from the campus and community helped Shoreline Community College Foundation's Student Success Campaign and Community Breakfast raise 24 percent more money than the previous year

The 11th annual event opened at 7 a.m., Thursday, Nov. 6, 2008 in the new Pagoda Union Building's Main Dining Room. A highlight of the program was the honoring of Dr. Gloria Swisher, a retired SCC music faculty member, with the Student Success Award. Award presenters were her fellow faculty member Nancy Matesky and former student and now SCC Director of Special Services Kim Thompson.

With SCC faculty member Diana Knauf as emcee, attendees also heard from SCC President Lee Lambert, SCC Foundation President Scott Saunders and three inspiring stories from students Brittany BakeSCCbreakfastbinh.jpgr, Binh Nguyen and Chukwudi Okeke. SCC music student Lisa Serova played piano for the event.

SCC Foundation Acting Director Ritva Manchester said the financial success of the breakfast will go a long way toward helping the foundation to help more students meet the costs of education.

"The room was sold out," Manchester said. "And then, people gave generously. Our early and unofficial tally is more than $37,000 and we expect more pledges to come in."

Activist-level sponsors included Highlands West Dental, Puget Sound Energy and Dick and Beth Stucky.

Grassroots-level sponsors included Shoreline Bank, Aurora Rents, CRISTA Senior Living, Spin Alley, Bayley Construction, and Irene Wagner and Scott Saunders.

Table captains included Bayley Construction, James Alan Salon, Jim Hills, Edward Jones, Ruth Kagi, Shoubee Liaw, Lee Marchisio, Ken and Pearl Noreen, Roger Olstad, the O'Neils, Jack Rogers, Scott Saunders, SCC Humanities Division, SCC HOPE and Science Division, SCC IASS/SS Department, SCC President, SCC Senior Executive Team, SCC Workforce, City of Shoreline, Shoreline Bank/Aurora Rents, Shoreline Chamber of Commerce, Shoreline Federation of Teachers, Shoreline School District, Shoreline/Lake Forest Park Arts Council, Shoreline Public Schools Foundation, SLR, Dick and Beth Stucky, Dale Turner Family YMCA and Irene Wagner.