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PHCC cuts 22 positions
To close $1.8M budget gap
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Dr. Angeline Godwin

Friday, June 20, 2014

By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer

A $1.8 million budget deficit is prompting a reorganization at Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC) that will result in 22 jobs being eliminated.

Of those, 16 are full-time and six are part-time. The full-time jobs include five faculty positions, three administrative/professional positions and eight other “classified” — nonteaching — positions, according to PHCC President Angeline Godwin.

That will leave the college with about 290 positions, college officials said.

They declined to identify the positions being eliminated yet.

Employees losing their jobs are to receive severance packages and/or retirement benefits, Godwin said. Only two of the 16 full-time employees affected have been officially laid off and will receive only the severance package, she said.

Ten of the 22 employees retired voluntarily, she said.

Some retiring employees will receive “enhanced retirement” benefits, which means they can receive the same benefits that they would if they had been able to work up to seven more years, Godwin said.

Employees not retiring will have opportunities to apply for vacant positions at the college for which they are qualified, she said.

“We’re going to work with each individual involuntarily displaced” to get them the maximum benefits they can receive from the state, she added.

Affected employees also will get “transition assistance,” such as help with preparing resumes and seeking new jobs, if they want it, Godwin said.

Nobody is losing their jobs due to bad performance, she emphasized.

The eliminated positions were selected based on their “overall cost-saving potential and whether the position is critical to student success,” she said.

“Academic excellence is our priority,” Godwin said.

She did not rule out the possibility of more job cuts eventually, but she said she does not anticipate any in the near future.

The 22 jobs being eliminated is the largest number of job losses at PHCC at least since 2003. There were layoffs that year as well as in 2007, 2009 and 2010, but no more than several at a time, according to Public Relations and Marketing Coordinator Kris Landrum.

The last day of employment for those losing their jobs generally will be June 30. A few may leave a little sooner or later, depending on the needs of their departments, information provided by the college shows.

College officials explained the cuts to faculty and staff members Thursday.

According to officials, PHCC saw a major increase in enrollment from 2008 to 2011, largely among students who received federal Trade Act benefits to be trained for new jobs after the ones they had went overseas or were lost due to foreign competition.

Enrollment figures show that PHCC had 3,128 students this spring, down from 3,220 in the spring of 2011 and 3,245 in the spring of 2012, but up from 2,851 last spring.

However, full-time equivalencies have dropped steadily from 2,093 in the spring of 2011 to 1,887 this spring, figures show.

Equivalencies are figured by taking the total number of credit hours taken by students and then dividing by 12, which is the minimum number of hours to be recognized as a full-time student.

State funding for the college dropped by 15.8 percent between fiscal years 2010 and 2012, but tuition revenue rose by 67.3 percent, causing a surplus of more than $2 million that has since been carried forward in budgeting.

That surplus masked a roughly $1.8 million operating deficit discovered in the college’s budget for fiscal 2015, officials said.

When it is available, carry-forward money should be directed toward paying one-time costs, not ongoing expenses, Godwin said. Ongoing sources of revenue should be put toward ongoing expenses, she indicated.

To help make up for the $1.8 million shortfall, Godwin said, PHCC reduced various costs unrelated to employees — instructional supplies is an example she mentioned — by $754,000 for the new fiscal year that will start July 1.

That left a deficit of slightly more than $1 million. Because personnel costs account for about 74 percent of PHCC’s budget, there was no way to get rid of the deficit without eliminating some personnel, Godwin said.

When the deficit was examined, there was “no evidence that money was mishandled or missing,” she continued. Rather, “a much more rudimentary” system of budgeting was used in the past than she thinks is appropriate.

To try and prevent future deficits from occurring unknowingly, she said the college will now use “zero-based budgeting.” The gist of that concept is that when budgets are prepared, they start from scratch every year, rather than adjusting the previous year’s budget, Godwin said. Such “aggressive budgeting is becoming more and more common” in higher education as resources shrink, Godwin said.

Godwin said Glenn DuBois, chancellor of the Virginia Community College System, has given his blessing to PHCC’s reorganization plan, which will include realigning and streamlining departments and services.

“Ultimately, it will make us more efficient and effective, which will enable us to serve students better,” Landrum said.

Students will notice changes stemming from the reorganization as they are put into place on campus, Godwin said. But none should result in them being hindered in receiving an education, such as larger class sizes or fewer course meeting times, she said, adding that she thinks the college has an adequate number of faculty members to prevent those situations.

The college will develop a task force that will work through the summer and fall to develop specific ways that PHCC will reorganize and realign itself.

“Anyone who wants to participate,” including students, faculty members and other employees, can do so as they have time, Godwin said.

 

 
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