MARIETTA - Washington State Community College will eliminate two senior leadership positions and a part-time job, and alter positions as it works to increase enrollment and deal with a projected $1.5 million deficit.
According to a release issued Tuesday by the school, the chief information officer and executive director of institutional advancement positions will be eliminated, along with a casual labor position in the maintenance department. In addition, a workforce development specialist position will be reduced to part-time and the college will stop covering 25 percent of the salary of the director of outreach.
The moves were part of a budget plan approved by the college's board of trustees Monday to deal with an enrollment drop attributed to the change from quarters to semesters, changes in federal financial aid rules, an improving economy and a general decline in high school graduation rates.
The specific cuts were not announced until the affected employees could be notified.
"Washington State Community College is a great institution with many very positive activities," college President Bradley Ebersole said in the release. "The decisions we must make are never easy, and we understand this reduction in staff will create challenges for our employees and their families."
Claudia Owens, executive director of public relations and marketing, said the administration believes staff already in place can fulfill the college's needs in the areas where positions have been reduced.
"The leadership of the college looked at the overall organizational needs and looked at what would have the least overall impact on the students," she said.
The chief information officer, John Billerman, and executive director for institutional advancement, Robyn Hoffman, were hired in January to round out Ebersole's executive cabinet in his first year on the job. Billerman, who oversaw the college's information technology and management information systems, had an annual salary of $75,000.
Hoffman's departure was the only one announced during Monday's meeting, at which she was present. Ebersole praised the work she's done pursuing grants for the college, but said she was voluntarily stepping down to pursue other opportunities. Her annual salary was $50,000.
The casual labor position was not a full-time job and the individual worked on an as-needed basis, making $11 an hour, said Sue Murdock, human resources director.
Reducing the workforce development specialist position from 40 hours a week to 20 is expected to save about $16,000 over the remainder of the fiscal year, plus benefits, for which the employee will no longer be eligible.
Outreach director Gary Williams' annual salary was $54,269, but the college will no longer cover a quarter of that amount. Owens said a new grant would need to be obtained to keep the salary at its current level.
"Right now, the grant only covers 75 percent of his salary," she said.
Also announced at Monday's meeting was the combination of executive director for workforce development Laurene Huffman's duties with the WSCC Foundation director's position once Gail Reynolds retires in January.
The savings will come from the remainder of the affected employees' salaries and benefits for the year. The original targeted amount to save was $206,000, but Owens noted that some of the numbers for the planned savings, such as furlough days, would be altered by the reduction in force.
Beyond the job cuts and furloughs, the deficit amount is being made up by $300,000 from the college's reserves, $164,000 from early retirements and $550,000 from previously enacted spending reductions.
The $1.5 million figure comes from a projected decrease of 7.9 percent in total credit hours based on historical data, although that dealt with quarters rather than semesters. The actual deficit amount could change depending on actual spring enrollment.
It was originally reported that each employee would take 10 furlough days, but Treasurer Jess Raines said Monday that would depend on the number of days the individuals' contract requires them to work. Some will take less than 10.
Board of trustees Chairman Ken Schilling said Tuesday that Ebersole heard input from around the college and worked to keep personnel cuts as low as possible.
"One cut is too many when you go back to the history of the college having not had to go through this," he said. "I think Dr. Ebersole and his management team (have) made the best of a bad situation in keeping any cuts to a bare minimum."
The college plans to look at other cost-saving measures as well. John Tigue, vice president of academic affairs, will review the responsibilities of academic chairs, with an eye toward streamlining those duties and adjusting pay accordingly. A recommendation on that is expected by mid-November.
In addition, Tigue will review low-productivity academic departments, with a recommendation planned to be presented to the board by January.
Additional restructuring involves having the records and registration offices and Center for Student Success report to Tigue, allowing chief enrollment and student success officer Amanda Herb to focus on admissions, recruiting and advising to keep enrollment numbers from slipping and affecting the budget further.