News from Olympia is causing Shoreline Community College officials to again adjust the potential budget-reduction target.
With a worsening economic picture outlined in the revenue forecast released March 17, and subsequent advice from the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges, Shoreline officials are now planning toward a possible $3.1 million cut starting July 1, 2011.
“We’ve got to go there and then hope it will be enough,” Vice President for Academic Affairs John Backes said Monday, March 21. “These cuts are far beyond painful. It’s hard to see how we would be able to continue to serve students in the same numbers and to the same level.”
The college just concluded two weeks of gathering campus feedback on possible reduction numbers based on Gov. Chris Gregoire’s plan proposed in January. Labeled “preliminary recommendations” because of the myriad variables that could impact a reduction target, the potential reduction announced Feb. 22 added up to $2.77 million. The recommendations included as many as 20 faculty positions, 7.5 classified positions and 4.5 administrative positions.
The state’s revenue forecast, however, appears to assure that the reduction required will be deeper.
Compared to the November forecast, revenues are expected to drop by another $80 million in the current year. Looking ahead for the next two years, the forecast is gloomier by another $698 million next biennium or about $798 million over the next three years. While the numbers change depending on who is talking, the general yardstick used by the state Office of Financial Management shows that the project shortfall is now at $5.1 billion. That would be a 22 percent increase in the shortfall contemplated in the Governor’s budget, according to the State Board.
“Based on this information, SET (the Senior Executive Team) has made the decision to plan toward a reduction of $3.1 million,” Backes said. Despite the increase, Backes said SET is still working to complete a budget reduction plan by the previously published deadlines and an April 6 all-campus meeting. “We’re reviewing all the information received during the feedback period and looking at how to hit this new mark.”
The Legislature isn’t expected to have a budget ready by April 6, but Shoreline President Lee Lambert has said the difficult timing this year is no different than in the previous three years. Because of contract requirements, the college must start on reductions before a final number is given the college by the State Board. Lambert has said the college could pull back personnel cuts if they’re not needed, but couldn’t accelerate the processes for union represented employees.