Financial Emergency Declared by BBCC Trustees

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For Immediate Release

October 21, 2011

Contact: Doug Sly 509-793-2004    

Financial Emergency Declared by BBCC Trustees

Big Bend Community College Trustees unanimously declared a financial emergency for the 2011-13 biennium on October 19.

The resolution is the first step of a process required for the college to consider layoffs during the current biennium. It directs President Bill Bonaudi to monitor future budget cuts to the college that would “require a reduction in force of college personnel.”

BBCC has lost $3.7 million of its state-funded budget since 2009. College officials already know  they must cut another $800,000 in 2012—representing total cuts of 40 percent from 2009 operating levels.

Added to this scenario are even deeper cuts to this year’s (2011-12) budget when the state Legislature meets in special session on November 28 to address a budget shortfall.

“What this means for the public is fewer classes and programs, and fewer employees,” Bonaudi said.

BBCC has lost 27 positions since 2009, including eight full-time instructors. Class offerings have  been reduced, and enrollment dropped 9.6 percent this fall.

Trustees said in the resolution their intent is to “provide the policy tools needed by the college to address budget reductions while minimizing impact to students.” Cuts to this year’s budget are  harder to deal with because the college started spending that money in July, said Bonaudi.

The meeting was attended by Rep. Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake, who serves on the House Higher Education Committee. Rep. Warnick has attended informational meetings on higher education throughout the state in recent weeks.

“Big Bend is providing training for real jobs,” Warnick said. “But I am hearing cuts to education in the special session will be brutal.”  She said one estimate is that the state’s community college system will lose 40,000 students, which in terms of enrollment is “like losing the University of Washington.”

College employees took turns commenting about the declaration of financial emergency.

“A lot of employees are nervous, and there is a lot of tension,” said Holly Moos, BBCC Vice President of Human Resources and Labor. “People are working extra jobs, and can’t take their vacation. We have fewer people, but the work doesn’t go away.”

Faculty Association President Mike O’Konek said “I think the administration has done a good job of minimizing the impact, but if we see those kinds of cuts, BBCC won’t look the same.”

O’Konek noted that community colleges are part of the solution to the state’s economic problems, “but sometimes it feels like we are being treated like we are part of the problem.”

BBCC Classified Staff Representative Kathy Aldrich said “Our employees have taken on additional jobs. There will be a point when you are so overloaded you can’t do the good job the students deserve and have paid for.”