Above: SCC President Lee Lambert speaks Friday, March 6, 2009
Below: Classified staff member Amy Easton listens.
Shoreline Community College has started the process to close two programs and cut 33 positions in anticipation of deep budget cuts forced by the state’s economic crisis.
“This is a difficult day as we grieve the loss of positions and the impacts that will have to our family here at the college,” Lambert said to several hundred people during an open all-campus meeting Friday, March 6,
2009 in school’s PUB Main Dining Room. Of the 33 jobs identified to be cut, 18 are currently filled.
The programs slated for closure are Cosmetology and Speech Language Pathology Assistant.
The Cosmetology program operates a full-service salon in a leased building near the campus. The curriculum teaches not only the art and science of cosmetology, but also business and interpersonal skills in the classroom and under actual salon conditions. The salon offers hairstyling and cuts, manicures, pedicures, facials and more to the public. Cutting the program means the loss of two classified positions, two faculty positions (one currently vacant) and the eventual lease savings.
Budget cuts aside,
SCC ready for the future
SCC President Lee Lambert feels that despite the potential cuts, the college is well positioned for the future.
“We are uniquely situated to move the college forward in a positive way,” he said. Lambert referred to President Barack Obama’s stated focus on healthcare, energy and education.
“We are ahead of the game to pursue resources that may be coming our way,” he said. Lambert cited the renewable energy program, which is the first in the region to produce certified workers for green-collar jobs and the health care information technology program.
He said Obama’s emphasis on reducing high-school dropout rates matches well with SCC’s Learning Center North and Career Education Alternatives programs. “We have the finest dropout retrieval programs in the country.”
In addition, Obama’s focus on expanding public service resonates with SCC’s increased emphasis on incorporating service learning into the curriculum in a broad way.
“We’re ahead of the curve on all of that, thanks to the work done by you,” he said.
Because students take cosmetology classes in sequence, just shuttering the program isn’t possible, said Vice President of Academic Affairs John Backes. While no more students will be admitted to the program, currently enrolled students can complete their degrees, he said. “That’s our promise to those students,” Backes said.
The Speech Language Pathology Assistant program prepares students for jobs with private firms or public agencies that provide speech-language pathology services. Assistants work with speech language pathologists to help those with speech- and hearing-impairment disorders. Cutting the program means two faculty positions would be lost.
Lambert said a bill currently before the state House of Representatives could change the program’s fate. Known as SSB 5601, the legislation sponsored by Sen. Rosa Frankilin, D-Tacoma, would mandate state certification for speech language pathology assistants.
“If that bill is signed into law, the college would re-examine this decision,” Lambert said.
In addition to losing the two programs and the related positions, Lambert said the college will undertake a major reorganization of the Student Success division, which is under the direction of Vice President Tonya Drake. The changes will mean Drake loses two adviser/counselor positions, three classified positions and three administrators.
“We think of it as a redesign,” Drake said. “We’re moving toward a one-stop model, with multiple services available at the counter. Right now, we’re an industrial model where we move the student along.”
During a question-and-answer period, Drake was asked if the personnel cross-training needed for the one-stop model had potential disadvantages due to loss of expertise. Drake acknowledged the possibility, but said she and division directors felt the potential advantages presented by added flexibility and the ability to respond to high-traffic periods outweighed possible losses.
Other position cuts include an administrator in Technical Support Services and 11 other faculty positions.
A number of questions were asked about how and why certain faculty positions were identified for reduction.
“We followed the budget committee’s request and used the points of consideration, but we went far beyond that,” Backes said in response to one question. To a similar question posed later, Backes read part of the criteria used to make the choices “as fair as possible” and promised to post the entire document.
Lambert said the budget-reduction plan is the current best estimate of both the level of cuts that will be needed and where to make the slices. He said a trip to Olympia on March 5-6 and meetings with other community colleges presidents as well as elected officials and state staff helped direct his thinking about what would likely be required.
“Our focus is around 10 percent,” he said, adding that translates to about $2.4 million of SCC’s operating budget. “That said, if the economic forecast gets worse and the Legislature does its work, we may have to refocus.”
Lambert also wanted to dispel what he has come to feel are misconceptions of the possible impact from the federal stimulus package. He said the feeling in Olympia is that lawmakers will aim federal money at early learning and K-12 education first, with the leftovers falling to community colleges and four-year schools. He also said that may not be all bad.
“A better way could be to get the base budget to the highest level possible with state dollars. Why? Because in two years, when the federal money goes away, we’ll be in a better position,” Lambert said.
Lambert asked Vice President for Administrative Service Daryl Campbell to outline the numbers facing the college.
Campbell said the reduction range could be from $2.4 million (10 percent) to $3.6 million, about 15 percent of the school’s operating budget. The actual target is still to be determined.
Campbell also addressed the potential impact of the federal economic stimulus package, officially know as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
The state’s share, he said, is likely to be around $6.7 billion, which includes:
- $820 million in block grants to local school districts and public colleges and universities;
- $182 million in flexible block grants to avert budget cuts in education or other state services and,
- $50.3 million for Workforce Investment Act job training and employment services.
Other pieces of the federal package include:
- $750 million nationally for new program of competitive grants for worker retraining and placement in high growth and emerging industries;
- Increase Pell grants from the 2008 limit of $4,750 to $5,350 in 2009 and $5,550 in 2010 and,
- Tuition and related- expense tax credit of up to $2,500.
Campbell then presented slides showing the specific positions that could be reduced. A number of them are already vacant.
Later, in a response to a question, Lambert said those vacancies could play a key role in minimizing the number of people who may have to leave the college. “For example, in classified, there are six positions vacant. We may be able to mitigate the impact.”
Lambert also said that some employees have come forward to say they’d be willing to retire if that meant a coworker’s job could be saved.
- points of consideration
- Backes document
- Campbell slides
- Classified contract
- Faculty contract
Brad Coulter/SCC photos