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13 layoffs announced at SCC

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By Jesse Osbourne

 

Thirteen employees were affected last week due to layoffs at St. Catharine College because of a $1.4 million operational budget shortfall.


Six people were staff members, seven others worked as janitorial employees, according to SCC President William Huston.
Other departments affected were the office of advancement, the business office, the book store, facilities, campus ministry and admissions.
He said some positions were combined.
“I can’t leave the book store not open,” he said. “Another person that had duties of scheduling all of the outside activities and events and coordinating a lot of that, she’s moved her office over into the book store. She was in the book store seven or eight years ago, so she understands the operations.”
Huston said there were four or five other positions that were open but won’t be filled.
“A couple of assistant coaches positions, a couple in resident life,” he said.
He made a promotion in the office of advancement, he said. Molly Smith was the director of annual giving and was promoted to vice president in the department.
“I’m not going to fill her old position, so I’ll actually be down two positions in advancement,” he said. “I’m going to be working in that about 75 percent of my time.”
The janitorial workers were still working, he said, and would continue to do so until the end of the month. Then, the positions will be outsourced.
“The one thing that I feel good about is we negotiated the same wages that they have,” Huston said about outsourcing the janitorial labor. “We wanted to make sure that they were held whole during the transition. The other benefits were very similar.”
He was also assured, he said, that former janitorial workers would have first priority for the new jobs.
He added that the college has outsourced security and groundskeeping in the past.
“Every year it seems like we pick up another 20,000 or 30,000 square feet under roof and with that you’ve got more equipment and materials and supplies and stuff like that,” he said about outsourcing.
He added that it was not uncommon to outsource those services and that it wasn’t part of the budget crunch.
“It just so happened to fall at the same time,” he said. “It will save us some money by doing the outsourcing.”
Huston said he hopes there would be no more layoffs and that he doesn’t have any more planned now.
The budget shortfall occurred, he said, due to a drop in enrollment.
As of last week, he estimated that 75 less students signed up for classes at the college than last year.
Huston said each student that didn’t return was called.
Overwhelmingly, he said, students said they didn’t have the financial means or support to continue classes.
The difference now, he said, is that local companies are hiring.
“You can go to INOAC and Toyotomi,” he said. “TG Kentucky is begging for people and the call center in Bardstown is begging.”
So, he said, students drop out and start working.
“They can work a semester and come back. Almost every one of them told us, ‘We’re going to come back,’” he said.
Huston said 13 out of the 20 colleges in the Association of Independent Kentucky Colleges and Universities showed a decline in enrollment this semester.
“I know I’ve talked to two community and technical college presidents and both of them were down rather significantly,” he said. 
The total loss of revenue was $1.4 million, which will come out of the operational budget, he said.
Cuts will come in three ways, he said.
First, it came in layoffs.
Second, there was a 10-percent decrease in salaries across the board.
“That was a minimum of 10 percent and several folks offered more, considerably more,” he said.
Some of the vice presidents have come forward and contributed more, he said.
“You don’t even get a tax break for it because it comes off the top,” he said.
Employees earning less than $10 an hour weren’t subject to the salary decrease, he said.
The salary deduction affected the last two weeks of payroll in September.
The third cut, he said, is a 20-percent operational budget cut.
The items he couldn’t cut, he said, were utilities, since there was a mild winter last year, insurance and debt payments.
Instead, he said, he has to cut things like travel, copy machine expenses and office supplies.
Huston said there is usually a drop in students at Christmas because of the graduation class.
“We always pick up students at Christmas but we usually graduate a few more than we pick up,” he said. “If we can keep that within a 10-percent differential, then I think that we’ll be fine this year.”
Huston said that in the last 15 years, the college has had a deficit in the operational budget twice.
He did want to add, he said, that the library construction project has nothing to do with people getting laid off.
“The library is a self-enclosed project and those dollars and funding for the library have been raised specifically for that,” he said. “Not one penny of operations money has gone into the library.”
Staff members have also seen their retirement match frozen since the fourth quarter of last fiscal year (March through June), Huston said.
“Most of our employees are paying into the retirement system,” he said. “It’s just that we’re not matching right now.”
When he came here in 1997, Huston said the employer match was one percent. Now, when the match isn’t frozen, it’s six percent. His goal, he said, is to get that to nine percent.
“I told them (last) Monday, I said, ‘At the first opportunity, which the first opportunity probably would be January when I see how my student count is after I graduate some and pick up some, then I’ll have to make that decision then for the rest of the year,’” he said. “Nothing has been taken away, it’s just that I’ve suspended it for right now. I could have re-initiated it and maybe laid off two more people.”
Huston said he wanted to add that these were layoffs, which is different than someone being fired.
“They will get some benefits. Anybody that’s laid off is always subject to be recalled,” he said.
Huston said the college has 130 full-time employees right now, and between 50 to 75 part-time employees.
He also said that athletics budgets, along with every other budget, will suffer cuts.
“We travel sometimes long distances (for athletic events),” he said. “The perception that I’ve even explained to my (employees) is certain trips are paid totally by sponsoring tournaments.”
An email from Don Giles, the vice president for academic affairs, addressed to the faculty, was given to The Springfield Sun on Monday.
In the email, faculty course load was addressed.
According to the email, the faculty will not receive pay for overload hours during the spring semester and mini-terms.
The faculty course load would be raised from 15 to 18 hours, where applicable, to reduce the need for additional adjunct faculty support.
Also in the email, faculty will not receive any course release for the spring semester and associated mini-terms.
The use of adjunct faculty must be curtailed, the email said, and any use of adjunct faculty must be deemed necessary and essential with approval from the dean and the vice president of academic affairs.
Focus must be placed on scheduling only ‘necessary and essential’ courses for core studies, special intentional efforts such as dual credit and each respective program during the spring semester, according to the email.
Also discussed was the need for all purchase orders brought forward for consideration to include the strongest justification for approval. Purchased orders, the email said, are being returned without any justification and without persuasive justification.
“That email did go out yesterday (Sunday) and said that full-time personnel would not be paid overload if they taught beyond their normal amount,” Huston said via email on Monday. “This is different than saying that there would not be adjunct professors hired to teach. There are obvious areas that we go outside our areas of expertise to employees that would be paid to teach. We are just asking those that are employed full time to give a little more during down economic times.”
Huston also addressed the purchase orders.
“Regarding the purchase orders,  we do have a two-step approval process in place to make sure the expenditure is first in the budget and secondly is it justified and a needed priority,” Huston said. “ If an emergency takes place, then obviously that is always considered. The point is that if we can reduce unnecessary spending, then it will help us be more fiscally responsible.”
Overall, Huston said that a lot of businesses are going through what St. Catharine is going through.
“It’s a little different here because it’s the first time that we’ve, in modern history, had a layoff,” he said.
When he looks at the last four years on campus, he said he’s proud of what he sees.
“We’ve built Sienna Hall, we’ve built Aquinas Hall, we’ve redone our total athletic complex and now we’re nearing completion on a new $8-million library,” he said. “So we’ve had $20 million worth of expansion during the recession. That’s just unheard of.”
A lot of schools, he said, haven’t built anything in that time period.
“I feel very blessed and this is a bump in the road that we’re going to get past,” he said.