LTCC contemplates staff reductions | TahoeDailyTribune.com

LTCC contemplates staff reductions

William Ferchland, Tahoe Daily Tribune

Stuck between a rock and a hard place, Lake Tahoe Community College is planning to cut some staff and trim more areas to cover a $1.2 million decrease in state funding and about $600,000 in increased expenses for this year and next.

The announcement, reported to the college’s board of trustees in a study session Friday morning, stems from the uncertainty of options Gov. Gray Davis and the state Legislature will choose to alleviate an estimated $35.6 budget crisis.

The staff cutting would release, at most, three academic positions at the college.

On Feb. 1 a group of administrators met to try to find ways to trim areas without cutting employees.

“The bottom line is we couldn’t figure out a way to avoid layoffs,” said LTCC President Guy Lease.

Calling it the “February Surprise,” problems compounded and grew in complexity when the state decided not to provide “backfill” from lost property taxes.

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California community colleges receives money from property taxes and puts in best guesstimates when constructing budgets.

For the California community college system, it meant a mid-year loss of $38 million. LTCC, one of the smallest colleges in the system, took a hit of $101,000 from that figure.

Sarcastically calling it the “bonus Cracker Jack surprise,” Jon Stephens, vice president of business services, said the new developments, including growth expenses, created a current shortfall of $158,000 less than was budgeted for this year.

The new base for next school year is $8.7 million, $400,000 less than the starting base in 2002-2003.

Next year categorical programs are expected to be cut. For example, Partnership for Excellence, a $900,000 program that includes assistance for students to transfer to four year colleges and universities, had $90,000 cut this year. Next year the cut is expected to be an additional $315,000.

“That’s huge,” said Lori Gaskin, vice president of student instruction. “That is very problematic.”

The college already cut 106 courses for spring semester. The move was done to slow the growth of the college since 128 full time equivalent students were being served without the assistance of state funding.

Stephens constructed two contingency plans for next year depending if the state will fund growth or not.

“What the governor is saying is ‘I’ll fund growth because (students) won’t be there’,” Stephens said., citing a increase in enrollment fees will deter students from enrolling.

Even though LTCC is in a crunch, plans are still underway to construct a $7 million library from Prop. 47 funds, money that can’t be spent to alleviate the shortfalls.

Trustee Member Frederick Wenck said he would like to keep core classes and supplies available than maintain the college at a low level.

Trustee President Kenneth Rollston acknowledged the Friday morning conversation was not happy.

“What we need to recognize is we’ve been here before,” Rollston said, alluding to past state budget crises.

LTCC President Lease agreed.

“This is not a happy group,” he said. “We’re going to get through this.”

The proposal to cut some staff and further reports on financial statements for the quarter ending Dec. 31, 2002 will be heard at the 7:30 p.m. meeting at LTCC room A106 tonight.

— E-mail William Ferchland at wferchland@tahoedailytribune.com.

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