Staff cuts likely at community college: LTCC could lose more than $500,000 in state funding |

Staff cuts likely at community college: LTCC could lose more than $500,000 in state funding

William Ferchland
Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune / Lake Tahoe Community College President Guy Lease gives his 2006 State of the College speech on Friday.

In an attempt to adjust itself to dropping enrollments, Lake Tahoe Community College will have to lay off staff to a level not seen in at least two decades.

The realization was given to an audience listening to President Guy Lease’s State of the College address Friday. Early in his speech Lease admitted it was “perhaps the first time I have not looked forward” to giving the annual assessment of the college’s health.

“It is obvious that the trend in declining enrollment is not a one-time occurrence,” Lease said. “We simply cannot continue to operate the way we have been operating and (it’s) more than a possibility that some positions will be cut and careers affected.”

Lease asked department heads to curtail spending unless it is “absolutely essential to your program” and referenced cuts would be deeper than in 1986 when a few of the then-14 employees were laid off.

Since the college receives state money based on the enrollment of the prior year, $240,000 is expected to be lost in state revenue this year because of the enrollment decreases of full-time students in the 2004-05 school year, Lease said.

Based on this year’s drop, an estimated $567,000 in state money is anticipated to be lost next year.

With those anticipated decreases in funding, the total revenue decrease since the 2002-03 school year is $1.3 million.

Since the 2002-03 school year, which had 1,876 full-time equivalent students, enrollment has dropped to 1,575 full-time equivalent students.

“We simply cannot wait any longer to address the staffing changes that need to occur as a result of serving fewer students,” Lease said.

The topic was the gloomiest during Lease’s roughly hourlong speech that was intersected by two administrators giving a report on efforts to recruit students and promote the college.

“We’re all concerned. I haven’t heard anything about my program,” said Scott Lukas, anthropology and social sciences professor.

Lukas said a few meetings have outlined the issues, which take a hard look at programs that come with larger expenses than most. Lukas took a proactive role when he offered classes on line. He said the enrollment went up by 27 percent.

Visits to Southern California high schools and strengthening bonds with counselors were made last year, as well as the manufacture of brochures and posters for the college fair circuit.

“Our goal with these is to attract the attention of teens,” said Dean of Student Services Susan Middleton.

Radio advertisements in Sacramento, a poster at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport and representatives at youth festivals were additional strategies.

Lori Gaskin, vice president of academic affairs and student services, said one thought is placing a part-time representative of the college at a space at South Tahoe High School.

Gaskin said the various ethnicities of students attending a college fair in Long Beach was encouraging.

“If we’re going to reach out and embrace diversity on the campus, this is one of the ways to do it,” she said.

Trustee Roberta Mason hoped the recruiting efforts will pay out in the future.

“I didn’t envision we’d be growing forever,” she said.

Lease was fairly confident a funding source to rural community colleges, worth $500,000 to LTCC, not included in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s budget proposal would make it to the final 2006-07 state budget document.

He also touched upon the 5.18 percent Cost of Living Adjustment in Schwarzenegger’s proposal which could provide a raise for all college employees. More online courses are a goal. Student housing, be it a converted motel or on-campus housing, will also be pursued, Lease said.

“We need each of you to understand the situation and so what you can as we work together to regain the students we have lost,” Lease said. “I am confident that you will be a major part of the solution for the future and as always somehow achieve the miracles you seem to do routinely.”

-Tribune staff writer Susan Wood contributed to this report.

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