Budget cuts amid COVID-19
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.