Daryl Campbell addresses the all-campus meeting, Friday, Feb. 20, 2009.
As many as 20 people could lose their jobs and numerous classes “washed away” if Shoreline Community College is required to cut 10 percent from the 2009-11 budget.
Q – How many people are losing their jobs?
A – At this point, 20 currently filled positions could being noticed for layoff. Another 13 currently vacant positions will remain unfilled.
Q – When would those layoffs take effect?
A – The currently identified layoffs would take effect July 1, 2009.
Q – Who are the employees being noticed?
A – The positions noticed for layoff will be shared at an all-campus meeting scheduled for March 6, after President Lambert has met individually with every affected person.
Q – Which employee groups are affected?
A – There will be layoff notices in all three main categories of employees, including administrative exempt, classified and faculty.
Q – How are the layoffs distributed across those groups?
A – The layoff notices are distributed as evenly as possible, given a long list of factors, including being able to continue the mission of the college, potential to meet current enrollment targets and the ability of already small work groups to function. In general, the percentage of cuts in each group reflects the groups’ percentage of the total campus workforce. In that a range of reductions are being planned, those percentages do fluctuate somewhat depending on the depth of the cut.
Q – How does seniority affect who gets layoff notices?
A – After a decision has been made which positions will be eliminated, contract language specifies that seniority is considered in determining who will receive a notice.
Q – Which programs are being cut?
A – Specifics about program reductions will be shared at the March 6 all-campus meeting, after the affected employees have been individually notified.
Q – What is the target number for these cuts?
A – The Governor’s budget proposes a 6.5 percent cut. However, that was Dec. 18 when the projected deficit was $6 billion. The projected deficit as of Feb. 19 is as much as $8.3 billion. At this point, SCC is anticipating being told to cut 10 percent, about $2.5 million. SCC is also looking at what a 15 percent cut, $3.25 million, would mean to the college.
Q – When will we know?
A – The target is moving due to the uncertain economic outlook and legislative choices in Olympia. The state budget, and therefore SCC’s allocation, won’t be set until the Legislature votes and the Governor signs it. While there is an end date for the Legislature, special sessions are possible. There is no hard and fast deadline for the state budget.
Q – How can we make cuts when we don’t know the target?
A – Budget reductions are not a question of if, only of how deep. The best-case scenario was the Governor’s proposed budget and even she says current circumstances make that no longer possible. The 10 percent reduction plan will get SCC into the neighborhood of the current best estimates for what will come out of Olympia.
Q – Why not wait until we’re sure?
A – Whatever budget number comes from the Legislature, it will take effect July 1, 2009. The faster the college can get to the new budget level, the more sustainable it will be for employees and students. For example, if the college were operating at 10 percent above the budgeted level for the first half of the fiscal year, it would have to be operating at 10 percent below budget for the second half, meaning more cuts.
Q – Once we get a budget and make the cuts, are we OK for the 2009-11 biennium?
A – Hopefully, but that’s not a given. No one knows for sure what will happen with the economy, which is driving these cuts. Using the appropriate procedures, the state can come back at any time and make deeper cuts, or if things get better, add support.
Q – Were things like asking for salary givebacks, shortened work week or cutting summer quarter considered?
A – Yes, virtually every suggestion was considered and the current plan is believed to be the best direction for the college. On things like salary and work-week reductions, while some employees can weather those cuts, others cannot. Also, not all of those kinds of decisions can be made at the college level. Cutting the entire summer quarter would reduce some expenses, but would also make it impossible to achieve state-mandated enrollment targets.
Q – What should we do now?
A – The process isn’t over and the influencing factors remain fluid. So, stay informed and engaged, offer your ideas and be respectful of others’ ideas. SCC still has a mission and there are thousands of people depending on the college to help them.
That sobering news was presented by SCC President Lee Lambert and the college vice presidents at an all-campus meeting, Feb. 20, 2009 in a packed PUB Main Dining Room at the college.
Lambert said the process was thorough and difficult. “I care deeply about all of you,” he told the nearly 300 faculty, staff and students at the meeting. “
Lambert said college officials focused on creating two plans, one that assumed a 10 percent cut in state funding and another at the 15 percent level. He said 10 percent of those funds equate to about a $2.5 million cut with the 15 percent level needing to cut about $3.25 million. He reminded that while Gov. Chris Gregoire had in December proposed a budget with a 6.5 percent cut all community colleges, the state’s economy has worsened since then.
“At one point, we were looking at 20 percent, but I don’t think anyone is talking about that right now,” Lambert said. “These numbers can move, things can shift. But this is the best snapshot we have to date.”
Lambert asked Vice President for Administrative Services Daryl Campbell to go through the details of both plans.
At a 10 percent cut for the 2009-11 budget, Campbell told the audience that 20 positions have been identified for possible layoff. When compared to the 2007-09 budgeted staffing levels, a 10 percent cut is actually 33 positions, but the college held 13 positions open in anticipation of the deteriorating economy (click here for Campbell's presentation).
If the Legislature decided that a 15 percent reduction is needed, Campbell said that as many as 26 currently filled positions would be cut. In that case, 16 currently vacant positions would stay that way, he said, making for a potential total of 42 fewer jobs than the 2007-09 budgeted staffing level.
In both cases, he said, the job losses are spread across all employee types, including administrative exempt, faculty and classified. By percentage, the cuts generally mirror the normal distribution of those employee types.
While applying the personnel cuts equitably was a goal, uniformity wasn’t always possible, Campbell said. Different areas have different abilities to change the way work is done and accommodate cuts, he said.
Campbell said the plan was crafted after taking into consideration as much input and as many variables as possible. In a joint meeting of the Budget and Strategic planning committees and members of the President’s Senior Executive Team on Wednesday, Campbell said that among those variables included the moving budget target, how the college would serve the same or more students with fewer resources and the potential for even deeper cuts in coming months.
Regarding input, Campbell thanked the members of the Budget and Strategic Planning committees for their contributions, including a list of “points of consideration” (click here to see list) He also noted that he and other PSET members read every comment submitted by college employees through the intranet site or suggestion boxes around campus. “We received many, many comments that were extraordinarily useful,” Campbell said.
Much of the two-hour meeting was devoted to questions from the audience.
The personnel-cut numbers focused on full-time faculty and one person asked if part-time faculty would also be affected. “They are,” Lambert said. “You will see impacts to part-time faculty and hourly employees.”
To a similar question, Vice President for Academic Affairs John Backes said that all part-time faculty couldn’t be cut because there are not enough full-time faculty to teach “the thousands of (classes) we offer here at this college.”
Backes said that more specifics on class reductions will be announced March 6 along with the personnel details, but said that “a fairly large number will just be washed away.”
A student asked what will happen to students currently enrolled in ongoing programs if their classes are among those cut. Backes said the college would find ways to fulfill its promise to those students, a certificate or degree.
Lambert said the disconnect between increasing demand for education and decreasing money from the state to meet that demand is the “looming challenge.”
“And, when someone gets laid off here and goes to file for unemployment, you know what they’re going tell them? They’re going to say go to Shoreline Community College to get training. There’s something wrong with that,” he said.
After the meeting, Lambert said he sees an injustice in having to make such cuts.
“Every day, hardworking people try to make a difference in the lives of others,” Lambert said. “To find that a few people, the greed that began in the mortgage crisis, can undermine all that good work, not just at this college but the country and the globe, it’s disheartening.”