Financial hits prompt WSCC to cut positions

MARIETTA – Washington State Community College will eliminate seven full-time positions, three part-time positions and reduce one full-time position to part time from its staff and faculty for its upcoming fiscal year, citing enrollment declines and a reduction in state funding.

The move will save the district about $400,000 a year, school officials said.

The college’s Board of Trustees and administration have worked to decrease the budget since 2012, and last week approved a budget that is down $134,834 from the previous year. That decrease follows an $802,674 revenue drop from 2013 to 2014.

The college has notified affected staff and faculty of the cuts. WSCC President Bradley Ebersole, in a letter to faculty and staff, said the decision was necessary to meet the school’s budget constraints.

“Reducing the WSCC workforce impacts the lives of our staff,” Ebersole said in the letter. “These people have worked diligently in support of our mission and vision, and their departure is our loss.”

Many eliminated positions will take effect when the college enters its new fiscal year in July. The amount each position saves individually was not available Monday.

“This is what we had to work with, and unfortunately salaries make up the largest amount in any business,” said Davis Powers, vice-chair of the Board of Trustees. “We as a college have to learn to do more with less, and they’ve been doing that for a while.”

Some of the positions vital to the operation of the school, like the director of plant operations, will be absorbed into other staff positions.

“In the times of declining resources, it’s necessary to reduce the workforce,” said Claudia Owens, executive director of marketing for the college. “But we’ve got other people here that will do the job.”

Receptionist positions, which are staffed part time, will be replaced by the school’s new phone system, installed earlier in the year.

“All decisions have been focused on maintaining quality services and education to students, and on our mission of student success,” Ebersole said in the letter.

Owens said the college has no planned stages of further cuts. Chief Financial Officer Jess Raines noted at last week’s Board of Trustees meeting the college had to wait for new enrollment and state funding numbers to know what it would need in the future.

Washington State has seen enrollment declines since 2010, a trend that is noted by a shrinking high school population and an improved economy.

“It’s not a good scenario when good people lose their job, but it’s part of, unfortunately, our job,” Powers said. “We’re tied to a budget that’s very stringent.”