MARIETTA - Washington State Community College's Board of Trustees on Monday unanimously approved a plan to head off a projected $1.5 million budget deficit with steps including $300,000 in reserve funds and $206,000 from a reduction in force.
The college did not release the number and type of positions being eliminated, saying the affected employees had not all been notified Monday night. That information is expected to be made available today.
President Bradley Ebersole said last week it would affect only "a handful" of jobs.
One of the cuts that was revealed is a position created earlier this year by Ebersole.
Robyn Hoffman is stepping down after about eight months as executive director for institutional advancement, which dealt primarily with obtaining grants for the institution. Ebersole said Hoffman wanted to
pursue other opportunities and the position will not be filled.
"I'll just need to be doing some of (those duties) myself," he said. The amount of money that will save was not immediately available Monday night.
The projected deficit is the result of a 15.7 percent drop in enrollment from the fall 2011 quarter to the current fall semester.
The state-mandated change from quarters to semesters is one of the factors in the decline, along with changes in federal financial aid and improvement in the economy leading some people to opt for the workplace over the classroom.
College chief financial officer Jess Raines told trustees the projected total deficit amount of $1,467,054.25 is based on the average 7.9 percent drop in credit hours from the fall to the spring quarter in the last six years.
"We can't tell you firmly what spring enrollment's going to look like," he said, noting in the past there was a winter quarter between the fall and spring terms.
Raines presented the board with projected credit hour declines of 6 percent to 15 percent. The latter amount would result in a total deficit of $1,647,402.25.
Trustee Larry Holdren asked whether the board should go ahead and take another $150,000 out of the college's $3.6 million reserve in case that scenario came to pass.
"We might as well go through the pain one time as to go through it twice," he said.
Trustee Larry Unroe said he did not want to see the college grow too reliant on the reserves, and suggested just going with the recommended $300,000 for now.
"If reserves are what you're looking at anyway, we can always make that decision in the spring," he said.
Ebersole told the board about organizational changes aimed at not only providing coverage for positions that were being cut or not filled but also focusing on efforts to improve enrollment.
Records and registration and the Student Success Center, which helps students in need of remedial classes, will report to Vice President of Academic Affairs John Tigue instead of enrollment management officer Amanda Herb at least through April 30 so Herb can focus her attention on bolstering enrollment for the upcoming spring semester.
"We need those numbers. We need those students to come in," Ebersole said.
Director of workforce development Laurene Huffman will take on the duties of college foundation director Gail Reynolds, who is retiring in January.
The board voted 8-0, with Trustee John Lehman absent, to approve a policy for implementing the reduction in force it had OK'd earlier.
In other business:
While the change was expected to result in a 5 to 15 percent drop in enrollment based on past precedent, Abrams said a convergence of factors, including the federal changes and economic improvement, has some schools in even worse shape. The actual declines are ranging from 12 to 25 percent, he said.
Abrams spoke about Gov. John Kasich's recent charge to retool the higher education funding formula with an increased focus on performance. Currently, 15 percent of a school's funding is determined by "success points" like course completion and graduation, with the rest based on enrollment.
"I would expect there'll be an expansion ... possibly up to 50 percent over the next few years or so," said Abrams, who is among those working on the new formula.