The state’s continued economic downturn means Shoreline Community College employees will learn over the next 10 days whether their positions will be cut in the next round of state-mandated budget reductions.
“It just gets worse and worse and worse,” Shoreline President Lee Lambert said Nov. 30, 2010, at a brown-bag meeting on campus. The announcement was triggered by the Nov. 19 state revenue forecast and Gov. Chris Gregoire’s statement that another 4.6 percent, about $1 million to the college, must be cut in the current budget year that ends June 30, 2011.
Lambert said cuts will hit all areas of college employees; classified, faculty and administrators. Lambert said the college has started the processes required by labor contracts to notify employees.
“We’ll notify the classified union immediately,” Lambert said, adding that faculty representatives have also been notified. Administrators, who are not unionized, will be told individually, he said.
Lambert didn’t say on Tuesday which positions or how many would be identified for layoff or reduction-in-force, but that details would be available soon. “I hope to present a plan with at least the numbers of positions affected on Dec. 10,” Lambert said. An all-campus meeting is scheduled for 12:30-2 p.m. that day in the PUB main dining room.
The process for layoff or RIF is outlined by contract and differs for each group. For example, seniority “bumping” rights come into play for classified employees. The classified contract is negotiated at the state level and offers the college less flexibility, he said. Position reductions for faculty members, who are represented locally, could be affected by retirements and other factors.
Lambert acknowledged that the announcement and process are coming quickly, but that economic realities leave little choice. “This is happening right now. We just don’t have time for our normal involvement processes,” he said.
Vice President for Administrative Services Daryl Campbell outlined those economic realities.
“Step back just a couple of months to September,” Campbell said. “We were told to plan for a 6.3 percent cut, which we did with what I’d call relatively minimal impact. Then, this month, we’re told they need another 4.6 percent, this year.”
Campbell added that in September, the outlook for next year was a grim 10 percent. A recent memo from the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges now puts next year’s reduction in the 18 percent range.
“Given that we started this year with a 7 percent reduction from the previous budget, that could mean a 35 percent cut in our state allocation since 2009,” Campbell said. “It’s not just happening to us, it is happening to the entire system. And, there’s no guarantee that it won’t continue to change.”
Lambert said there are many unknown factors that could change the scale and details of the reductions, but not the necessity for them.
For example, if a mandate known as “maintenance of effort” that is tied to federal stimulus money continues, that could delay the reductions. Also, the Legislature can change the underlying assumptions on which the cuts are planned.
“If any of those or other things do occur, we can pull back,” Lambert said. “But, if they don’t and we don’t start now, it just means deeper cuts later.”