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* Governor releases supplemental budget plan

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While final details are yet to come, the proposed supplemental budget released Friday, Dec. 17, 2010, by Gov. Chris Gregoire appears to hold little surprise for Shoreline Community College.

 

“It looks to be about what we expected after the Legislature’s special session on Dec. 11,” Shoreline President Lee Lambert said by e-mail. Lambert is visiting China and other Asian countries on college business and personal leave, but staying in close touch. “We need to wait for analysis (by staff at the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges) before we’ll know our final reduction target.” That review is expected in the coming week.

 

Gregoire’s proposal includes the reductions identified during the special session, worth about $588 million, plus pieces of her own earlier proposals to get to the $1.1 billion mark needed to balance the current year budget that ends June 30, 2011. The next step is to send the combined back to the Legislature for approval, expected to be among the first orders of business after lawmakers convene Jan. 10.

SCC/Jim Hills

* Five-Star Consortium moving ahead with cooperation

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ABOVE: Five-Star Consortium representatives discuss priorities at a meeting Dec. 16, 2010, at Shoreline Community College.

BELOW: Cascadia President Eric Murray, Shoreline Vice President for Academic Affairs John Backes and Shoreline Trustee Gidget Terpstra attended the meeting.

 

fivestar2.jpgFive colleges are moving ahead with efforts to better serve students and save money while doing it.

 

Presidents, vice presidents and trustees from Shoreline, Cascadia, Edmonds and Everett community colleges and Lake Washington Technical College all gathered Thursday, Dec. 16, 2010 at Shoreline in the first-ever such joint meeting to hear recommendations on how the five colleges can work together.

 

"Our five colleges have been working together for a number of years,” Shoreline President Lee Lambert said in his welcoming remarks. “This effort is a natural outgrowth of those efforts.”

 

Known as the Five-Star Consortium, the group was formed in 2009 with the “goal of maximizing efficiencies and promoting institutional coordination and collaboration,” according to the memorandum of understanding signed by all five college presidents. Over the past year, vice presidents and other college staff have been working to see just how that goal might be achieved.

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Everett President David Beyer said the presidents had “set the pathway, then asked our vice presidents to figure out how to get us there.” Although the meeting itself was informational, by the end Cascadia President Eric Murray proposed to nods all around  that all five presidents “go back and e-mail the vice presidents to move ahead with the priorities we’ve seen today.”

 

On Thursday, everyone got a glimpse of the priority lists in four broad areas including instruction, administration, student services and human resources.

 

Topping the list for the instruction group is the HP 3000, the state’s aging mainframe computer that is the foundation of all key student records for all colleges. “The HP is the key,” said Sandra Fowler-Hill, VP for Instruction at Everett. “It is the biggest single barrier we face.”

 

Acknowledging the enormity of fixing that problem, Fowler-Hill listed the group’s other top two priorities, which are well within grasp, including:

Common placement test – Four of the five schools use Compass tests while one uses Accuplacer. Besides picking one test, the colleges would also agree on common scoring for class placements, she said. Fowler-Hill also said there have been talks with local high schools on how to better assess student transcripts that would perhaps allow skipping placement tests that are costly to both students and colleges.

Residency requirements – Not where students live, but the requirements for where they complete degrees are the issue. Currently, students who hop from college to college may be forced to take credits beyond the degree requirement to satisfy residency rules.

Also on instruction’s list are: Align start-stop dates for academic quarters, publish a combined annual class schedule, joint purchasing for textbooks and combined professional development efforts for all employees. Fowler-Hill said the group also recommended a work plan that could implement the top two priorities by winter quarter, 2012.

 

Daryl Campbell, Vice President for Administrative Services at Shoreline, said that group “generated a ton of ideas and we explored 25 possibilities with a range of implications.”

 

In the end, Campbell said the group identified six items to prioritize and then chose one they feel has significant, long-term potential: implementation of a virtual desktop interface.

 

“Is that like Google Docs?” asked Edmonds Trustee Mauri Moore.

 

Basically, yes, Campbell said. The idea would use centralized servers hosting content and programs for access by any Web-enabled device, from a desktop computer to a smart phone. The group’s report shows potential savings to the consortium ranging from $412,000 to $773,000 a year over five years, primarily through reduced hardware replacement and software costs.

 

Other items considered by the administration group were a central warehouse for equipment purchasing, print shop and graphic design efficiencies and shared capital project management.

 

Vice presidents George Smith of Edmonds and Tonya Drake of Shoreline presented the student services report. Heading their list was a familiar refrain, the HP 3000.

 

“We identified two top objectives,” Drake said. “Common student identification numbers and shared access to student records.”

 

The report says that removing HP 3000 firewalls between college records would allow records to be shared. That means students who move between colleges would have their records move with them in a seamless manner. For ID numbers, students now get a new number each time they enroll at a different college. A common number would allow easy tracking and access for students and colleges.

 

The final report, involving human resources departments, was presented by Gina Lorenz of Cascadia. That group looked six areas, including cooperating on background checks, employment recruiting, personnel investigations, training, mandatory direct deposit and sharing expertise in specific subjects.

 

Lorenz said that aligning backgrounding processes and sharing reports could be implemented by July 1, 2011. Savings are estimated at about $5,000, she said.


SCC/Jim Hills

* SCC president named to national board to support certified training

Leebrownbag072610.jpgShoreline Community College President Lee Lambert has been named Vice Chair of the Board of the National Coalition of Certification Centers (NC3), a coalition of business and education representatives charged to support national industry standards in critical manufacturing areas via certified training programs. 

 

“I’m honored to work with this group to support world class standards in industry,” Lambert said.  “These standards will lead the way to the future by instilling confidence for the industries we serve while paving the way for our students as they move into the workforce.”

 

The group will focus on the transportation, aviation and energy sectors. It will look at ways to replicate existing programs that have successfully supported industry.  The Professional Automotive Training Center at Shoreline Community College offers a prime example of this type of program.  

 

“Our graduates can go anywhere to work,” Lambert said. Students graduate with top skills and certifications that assure both dealers and customers the best service possible. The innovative model was originated by the college and industry partners to integrate education with hands-on experience in the workplace.

 

Lambert said that the success of the automotive program is what sparked other partnerships between the college and industry, such as Snap-on Industrial, which provides the opportunity for automotive students (as well as incumbent workers) to get hands-on training using Snap-on diagnostic tools.   

 

NC3 announced its newly appointed board members at the Associate for Career and Technical Education conference in Las Vegas, Nevada on Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010.

 

                                                             Donna Myers/PIO

* Gregoire budget would increase tuition

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That sound emanating from Shoreline Community College Wednesday afternoon was the collective sigh of relief from the presidents of the state’s 34 community and technical colleges.

 

Gathered at Shoreline for their December statewide meeting, the presidents and other higher-education officials reviewed Gov. Chris Gregoire’s proposed budget for the coming biennium, issued Wednesday morning.

 

“Under the circumstances, we’re very pleased with the Governor’s budget,” Shoreline Community College President Lee Lambert said. “(The presidents) have just been discussing her budget. While it does include a significant tuition increase that will impact students, overall, it could’ve been that and much more.”

 

According to State Board for Community and Technical College staff, Gregoire’s plan includes tuition rate hikes of 10 percent for each of the next two years. That would translate to roughly $100 a quarter for a full-time student.

 

The state allocation to colleges would be reduced by just less than 10 percent. Including the tuition increase, the net average reduction would be about 2.6 percent, according to state board staff.

 

“We know this is just the first step toward a final budget next spring,” Lambert said “There will be proposals from both parties in the House and the Senate. However, with this budget, the Governor is clearly saying the community and technical college system is key to this state’s economic recovery and putting people back to work. That’s a sentiment I agree with whole-heartedly.”

 

Moving forward, Lambert said the college’s previous budget-reduction planning would provide the basis for responding to a final state budget. “We’ll just have to wait and see what the Legislature does, but we’re pleased with the bar set by Gov. Gregoire,” he said.

 

Gregoire also released her proposed capital budget, a list of building projects for the state. Shoreline isn’t on the list, but that was expected. The college is working on a master development plan, with an application expected to be submitted to the city of Shoreline sometime this winter. The college needs the plan before proposing capital projects to the state.

 

Gregoire must still put forth a supplemental budget to cover revenue shortfalls in the current year. The Legislature met in a special session on Saturday, Dec. 11, and came up with $588 million, about half of the needed budget cuts. Gregoire is scheduled to unveil her complete plan to meet the $1.1 billion shortfall on Monday, Dec. 20, according to state board staff.

SCC/Jim Hills

* Legislature gives budget breathing room

When Saturdays’ special-session gavel came down in Olympia, Shoreline Community College breathed just a little easier – for now.

“We’re still taking a budget cut this year, but it is far less than it could’ve been,” Shoreline President Lee Lambert said late Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010. “At 3.8 percent, the bills passed by the Legislature honor the federal maintenance-of-effort level.

“This gives us some breathing room, until June 30.”

Lambert said that barring unforeseen changes, announced layoffs and at least some of the other planned budget-reduction strategies are on hold for the balance of this fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2011.

“All fall, the news kept getting worse. We’d been told by the Governor and the State Board (for Community and Technical Colleges) to plan for cuts that added up to a 10.9 percent reduction,” Lambert said. The maintenance-of-effort (MOE) clause, which is tied to the state’s acceptance of federal stimulus money, was always in place, but colleges were advised to not count on it, he said.

“It’s hard to say that a 3.8 percent cut half way through the year is good news, but given the alternatives, we’ll take it,” Lambert said.

According to State Board officials, the overall cut to higher education will be $51 million with $26.7 million of that falling to community and technical colleges. The exact amount of Shoreline’s share should be known in the coming week. Another budgetary sleight of hand, Gov. Gregoire’s idea proposed on Nov. 23 to ask colleges to cover State Need Grant payments for the rest of this year, is not in the bills passed Saturday.

The Legislature’s efforts fill only $588 million of the $1.1 billion current-year shortfall with Gov. Chris Gregoire taking care of the rest. Details are expected from Gregoire next week, but state officials don’t expect any surprises in the form of additional cuts to higher education.

The next step for Shoreline, Lambert said, is to decide just what will be cut to hit the 3.8 percent target. “Obviously, we’ve done a lot of planning for much deeper cuts. Now, we have to decide which pieces will be used,” he said. “I’ll ask the vice presidents this week for recommendations.”

Lambert reminded that Saturday’s news is just a postponement of what are still seen as deep and devastating cuts to come. Gov. Gregoire is also expected next week to release her proposals for the 2011-13 operating and capital budgets. That plan will have to deal with a projected $5.7 billion shortfall. State Board officials have already warned colleges that budget cuts for that cycle could hit 18 percent

“We don’t know yet what’s in store for the next biennium, but it doesn’t look good,” Lambert said. “If it is as bad as they say, we’ll be right back here, looking at significant layoffs and serving fewer students.”

SCC/Jim Hills

* Special session key to college budget

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A student (in purple) listens to the response to her question during the all-campus meeting, Friday, Dec. 10, 2010. 

 

Shoreline Community College employees will have extra incentive to watch the outcome of Washington’s special legislative session scheduled to start at 9 a.m., Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010.

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Staff and faculty heard at an all-campus meeting on Friday that decisions made in Olympia could have a direct bearing on 27 positions that have been identified for possible layoff. At issue is just how much will be cut in a mid-year budget correction forced by a continued weak economy.

 

“Not due to the fault of any of us here, the challenges just keep coming and coming and it doesn’t let up,” Shoreline President Lee Lambert told a room of more than 100 employees and students with another 50 watching via the Web.  “We’ve had to make some very tough choices in a very attenuated timeline.”

 

Vice President for Administrative Services Daryl Campbell outlined the scale of the problem, the variables and the impact.

 

“We started in July with a 7 percent reduction form the previous year,” Campbell said. “Then, in September, we are asked for a plan to cut 6.3 percent more. Then comes November and we’re asked for another 4.6 percent.”

 

The caveat to all of that, Campbell said, is something called “maintenance of effort,” a clause in the state’s agreement to accept federal stimulus money that keeps higher-education expenditures at a certain level. Until just recently, adherence to the clause didn't look likely and the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges advised against counting on it.

 

However, as a special session became more likely, both Republican and Democratic leaders in the House and Senate put forth plans that did honor maintenance of effort.

 

Campbell said that if lawmakers pass a supplemental budget with maintenance of effort, moving ahead with planned layoffs could be delayed until June 30, 2011. He warned, however, that serious cuts are still anticipated at that time.

“This does nothing more than buy us time from what I’m certain will be back-loaded cuts of 18 percent or higher,” Campbell said.

 

Campbell then showed a slide that indicated the numbers of potential layoffs by employment category: Seven administrative-exempt, five classified and 15 full-time faculty.

 

Lambert said that depending on the news out of Olympia, the college could pull back on some or all of the positions for the time being. “But,” he said, “This stuff will happen. It’s just a question of when.”

 

Lambert said the college is working to mitigate the potential losses and that any extra time is helpful. “We’re constantly pursuing additional revenue streams,” he said. “This buys us time to see if any of those materialize.”

 

Money from sources such as grants and contracts can sometimes be used to offset losses in state funding.

 

“The state is forcing us in this direction,” Lambert said. “You can’t continue to chip away at our institutions and expect them to serve to the same level. Something’s going to have to give.”

* Special session could clarify budget cuts

All-campus meeting

  • Friday, Dec. 10
  • 12:30-2 p.m.
  • PUB Main Dining (note change from previous location)
A special legislative session in Olympia would be a good thing for Shoreline Community College, says President Lee Lambert.

 

“It is very difficult to plan with all the uncertainty surrounding the state budget,” Lambert said Monday, Dec. 6, 2010. “We may not like the outcome from a special session, but at least we’ll know what we're facing.”

 

Gov. Chris Gregoire said Monday that she will call a special legislative session before Christmas, even though the next regular session is due to start just weeks later in January. On the agenda would be a supplemental budget that must address an ever-increasing revenue shortfall for the year that ends June 30, 2011.

 

Gregoire didn’t set a date, but told lawmakers they have until Thursday afternoon to pick one. If they don’t pick one, Gregoire said, “I’ll give them a day,” according to news reports.

 

Lambert said the special session, combined with other news coming out of Olympia in recent days, may mean that layoffs announced last week for staff, faculty and administrators could be delayed.

 

“There have been proposals from both Republicans and Democrats that call for honoring the maintenance-of-effort threshold,” Lambert said. “We weren't expecting that, but if it’s the case, and there are no other serious reductions, we may be able to hold off … for now.”

 

Maintenance of effort (MOE) refers to a requirement agreed to by state officials as a condition of accepting federal stimulus funds back in 2008. “If the MOE holds, we might be looking at a cut of about 4 percent instead of almost 11 percent,” Lambert said.

 

Shoreline and all colleges took a 7 percent cut coming into this fiscal year, then were told this fall by Gregoire to find another 6.3 percent and then got presented with an additional 4.6 percent target after the grim Nov. 19 state revenue forecast.

 

Lambert cautioned that any reprieve would likely be short-lived.

 

“The state is still projecting huge deficits, $5.7 billion, for the coming biennium,” Lambert said. “The (State Board for Community and Technical Colleges) told us last week that cuts starting July 1, 2011 could hit 18 percent. We couldn’t avoid job losses at that level.”

 

To that end, Lambert said that notification of employees regarding potential layoff will continue, a process that started last week and is ongoing.

 

“We notified both the faculty and classified unions. We are speaking to administrators about the potential for layoff,” he said. “If things go well, we may be able to put off those reductions for awhile. If not, we’ll be in a position to move quickly and avoid going any deeper than absolutely necessary.”