Message from President Roberts: Additional Campus Budget Conversation Questions

Dear Colleague,

Here are the written responses to the budget questions received last week. The Executive Team and I have found that it takes about a week or two depending on the number of questions to research and supply thoughtful answers. We are thankful for your patience and understanding as we provide answers to your questions.

In the most recent set of questions, two major themes emerged: (1) a deep concern and anxiety about the potential for job loss and (2) a recognition of the power and privilege associated with making budget decisions that will affect many of us at the College.

Let me begin by saying that because of lower enrollment our associate faculty have already felt the sting of losing their jobs resulting from canceled classes during the 2018-19 academic year. I want to acknowledge the impact of this on associate faculty. As a response, deans, faculty, and staff have worked collaboratively to review the class schedule this past year to offer class sessions going forward that reflect the student enrollment demand.

The hope is that our enrollment will stabilize in 2019-20 with the strategic enrollment efforts currently underway. However, if enrollment does decrease again next year, we will need to reduce class offerings which will affect associate faculty and potentially our hourly employees. Our goal is to minimize this impact on our colleagues as much as possible in the 2019-20 academic year by using the College’s cash balance to cover 2019-20 budget shortfall. You can read more about the different strategies we are using to close the shortfall in my May 7 DAAG message.

Building a Sustainable 2020-21 Budget

It’s important to note that using cash balances to cover budget shortfall is a short-term budgeting approach that is not sustainable long-term. To that end, we are using the remainder of this spring quarter to engage the campus in developing a framework to establish our 2020-21 budget. We are or will soon be:

  • Identifying the data points and process for making decisions on how to reduce our expenditures to have a balanced 2020-21 budget
  • Using our contractual responsibilities to help guide how we approach any 2020-21 budget reductions
  • Conducting a review of every program and service at the College
  • Creating a budget development timeline so any employees who will be impacted by reductions in force in academic year 2020-21 would be notified in compliance with their collective bargaining agreement or employment contract no later than late winter quarter or early spring 2020

Potential Employee Reductions

Because education is a people-intensive enterprise, we know any significant reduction to our budget will result in some employees losing their jobs in 2020-21. This is why we want to have a thoughtful approach to making these reductions. Currently, we are fine-tuning the shortfall between our revenue generation (tuition, contracts, and state operating dollars) and expenditures (compensation and costs associated with operating the College). This figure will provide guidance in developing budget scenarios that will help determine the level of reductions at the College in 2020-21. These will be very difficult decisions as they will impact colleagues who we have worked alongside. This will also affect those who continue at the College.

Power and Privilege

I want to acknowledge the inherent power and privilege associated in my position as I recommend a path moving forward that builds a budget that will affect many at the College. As president, I will recommend the budget to the Board of Trustees and I’m acutely aware of the weight that recommendation holds, especially when reduction of positions will be part of bringing our budget into balance. That is why I want to involve the campus as much as possible in establishing a clear process with timelines and communication points so everyone is aware of what is happening and how budget reduction decisions were made. I am not asking others to make these recommendations. This is a part of my responsibilities. What I do ask is for involvement by the College to help me consider all the alternatives so the recommendations reflect the Shoreline we want to build together for our diverse students and communities. 

 If you have additional budget questions or requests for information, please continue use the online comment form or the physical comment boxes in these locations:

  • FOSS 3rd Floor Break Room (Room 5325)
  • PUB 2nd floor Break Room (Room 9212)
  • 2800 Building (Math & Science Main Office)
  • 2300 Building (Health Occupations Room 2340)
  • Library Main Desk (4200 Floor)

Our third Budget Conversation will be on Thursday, May 16 (1:30-3:00 p.m.) in the Theater, Building 1600. I look forward to continuing our conversation.


Cheryl Roberts, Ed.D.


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