Projected $11.2 million shortfall
Rocklin, Calif. – Faced with a projected $11.2 million shortfall for the 2010-11 fiscal year, Sierra College is proposing a 5% salary reduction for all employees, mandatory furlough days, elimination of positions, and reductions in programs and services to balance the budget.
‘The entire institution has come together to develop a set of strategies to address the shortfall,’ Dr. Leo Chavez, Sierra College President, observed. ‘Including the Board of Trustees who elected to use reserves last year to give us time to work through our collaborative process and come up with an approach that is as fair and as balanced as one could hope for during such a difficult time.’ Sierra College has a strong culture of shared governance reflected in their bargaining agreement which stipulates how the district disburses certain funding dollars. The ‘Omni-party’ agreement minimizes the adversarial positioning for budget dollars between the employee units; a philosophy which applies when dealing with windfalls or shortfalls.
Proposed job cuts
In addition to the reductions in compensation, the college is proposing the elimination of over 35 classified, management, and faculty positions. Approximately 25% of the positions are currently vacant. Also, several athletic and instructional programs are proposed for discontinuance including Automotive Technology, Construction Technology, and Agriculture. Of the seventeen Sierra College athletic teams, six are proposed for elimination: Men and women’s golf, men and women’s tennis, women’s track/cross country, and men’s water polo. The proposed elimination of positions and programs will be on the agenda of the Board of Trustees meeting scheduled for February 2.
Though the goal has been to minimize the impact on students, students have felt a difference noted Dr. Chavez. ‘The legislature reduced our enrollment cap by 3% this year and as a result our students are having a more difficult time finding open classes.’ Support services such as labs, student services, financial aid, and the library have decreased operating hours in response to the legislature’s 60% reduction in categorical funding. ‘This is a challenging time for our staff,’ Dr. Chavez added, ‘they observe first-hand the effects of these budget reductions on our students. The staff and faculty continue to rise to the occasion though, doing more with less and less.’
Sierra College serves approximately 20,000 students at campuses in Rocklin, Roseville, Grass Valley, and Truckee. Community college enrollment has surged locally and throughout the state due to the increase in fees at the CSU and UC systems and as unemployed workers return to expand their job skills.