Bud­get cuts amid COVID-19

Times Standard (Eureka) - - LOCAL NEWS - Keith Flamer

Dear CR Com­mu­nity,

Our com­mu­nity has suf­fered crit­i­cal chal­lenges as a re­sult COVID-19. Given the dis­rup­tion of the COVID-19 sit­u­a­tion on the state’s econ­omy, the col­lege will see a sig­nif­i­cant di­vest­ment from the state in 202021.

Ear­lier this week, the Board of Trustees’ Au­dit and Fi­nance Com­mit­tee met to dis­cuss the emerg­ing fis­cal im­pacts of the Gov­er­nor’s May Re­vised Bud­get. In that meet­ing, I in­formed the com­mit­tee that, un­less im­me­di­ate cost-con­tain­ment mea­sures are im­ple­mented, CR ex­pects to end the 2020-21 fis­cal year with a fund re­serve of -.2 per­cent and the po­ten­tial for greater losses in 2021-22.

By board pol­icy and ac­cred­i­ta­tion stan­dard, the col­lege is ob­li­gated to main­tain an un­re­stricted, un­com­mit­ted gen­eral fund re­serve of no less than 5%. Any­thing below a 5% re­serve will sig­nal that the col­lege does not have the fi­nan­cial re­sources nec­es­sary to pro­vide a rea­son­able ex­pec­ta­tion of both short­term and long-term fi­nan­cial sol­vency.

We have taken nu­mer­ous proac­tive ac­tions to bol­ster our fi­nan­cial po­si­tion. Sev­eral weeks ago, I froze the hir­ing of all new and re­place­ment po­si­tions, paused the hir­ing of tem­po­rary and con­tract ser­vices with ex­cep­tions for es­sen­tial ser­vices, and froze dis­cre­tionary spend­ing across all de­part­ments and pro­grams.

Re­cently, I made the de­ci­sion to im­ple­ment a re­struc­tur­ing of sev­eral ad­min­is­tra­tive func­tions to re­duce costs and im­prove or­ga­ni­za­tional ef­fi­ciency. Un­for­tu­nately, the re­struc­tur­ing re­sulted in the re­lease of sev­eral clas­si­fied and man­age­rial staff from the district, the elim­i­na­tion of va­cant staff, ad­min­is­tra­tive and fac­ulty po­si­tions, and the re­duc­tion in hours of sev­eral staff mem­bers.

For ad­di­tional sav­ings, at least $475,000 will be cut from the Health, Phys­i­cal Ed­u­ca­tion, Ki­ne­si­ol­ogy, Recre­ation, Dance and Ath­letic depart­ment bud­get next year. As a re­sult, we sus­pended in­ter­col­le­giate foot­ball and beach vol­ley­ball and elim­i­nated our cap and gown pro­gram. Ad­di­tion­ally, the money we spend on part-time fac­ulty will be re­duced by ap­prox­i­mately $570,000.

I know that the COVID-19 in­flu­enced eco­nomic down­turn is caus­ing fi­nan­cial hard­ship across all pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tors. I un­der­stand that the gov­er­nor and Leg­is­la­ture are wrestling with the com­plex prob­lem of find­ing ways to bal­ance a once-strong state bud­get.

The Col­lege of the Red­woods Board of Trustees, ad­min­is­tra­tion, fac­ulty and staff know that his­tor­i­cally, com­mu­nity col­lege en­roll­ments tend to be coun­ter­cycli­cal, ris­ing and fall­ing with the econ­omy. Stu­dents re­turn to school in stress­ful eco­nomic times to gain new skills or bide their time un­til the job mar­ket gets bet­ter. Stu­dents re­turn to the job mar­ket when more jobs are cre­ated. Our ap­proach to bal­anc­ing our 2020-21 bud­get will fo­cus on up­hold­ing our Mis­sion,

min­i­miz­ing loss to our in­struc­tional en­ter­prise, and pro­duc­ing the great­est re­turn for our stu­dents and com­mu­nity.

The hard choices we have made in the past few weeks have been made so as to have the least neg­a­tive im­pact on the great­est num­ber of stu­dents. De­spite the fi­nan­cial stress, Col­lege of the Red­woods will con­tinue to be re­spon­sive to the com­mu­nity’s work­force needs.

If the state con­tin­ues to cut our fund­ing, it will mean that we will need to be smarter about how we run our in­sti­tu­tion, but we will, no doubt, per­sist in serv­ing our stu­dents the high­est qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion avail­able in the state.

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