Budget Cuts Finalized at $2.2 million

Small fact boxes surround the different cuts These are the final proposed budget cuts (Diana Aristizabal)

Editor’s note:  This story was updated Nov. 17 to include information regarding Vice President of Instruction Tim Cook’s meeting with the board of trustees taking place Nov. 18 to review the finalized budget cuts.

 

Clark officials released the finalized $2.2 million budget reduction proposal for the 2016-17 school year Nov. 3.

The finalized proposal includes the elimination of six transfer and five career-technical programs. It also includes the reduction of classes in 12 programs.

The original draft called for a $2.6 million reduction, including the elimination of the Addiction Counselor program, which is now only proposed to be reduced. The second-year Spanish and Japanese, Meteorology, Geology and Pharmacy Technician programs were also proposed to be reduced or eliminated but are now unaffected.

Criminal Justice, Reading, French, German, Humanities and Oceanography are still proposed to be eliminated.

Vice President of Instruction Tim Cook will share the details of the proposal with the Board of Trustees during a work session on Wednesday.  The board is not scheduled to vote on the cuts during that work session according to their official report.

If the proposal is approved, transfer program cuts will take effect in the Summer 2016 quarter.

French Professor Doug Mrazek had a brief response to his department getting cut.

“All the efforts we made as a language department and as a division have not had any effect,” Mrazek said. “We have had no reply to our division proposal.”

Instructor Angela Lohr said her students were not only angered and frustrated by the Humanities department being eliminated, but by the way the Instructional Council handled the process.

“[My students] think that their administrators don’t value their opinion,” Lohr said. “It’s one thing for faculty to be excluded and marginalized, but when you start doing that to the population of people you’re supposed to be here to serve, that isn’t a good business model and it’s certainly not a good academic model.”

Cook had a different view. “I don’t think faculty were left out,” he said. “We had two forums that were packed. We had a student forum and students have been giving quite a bit of feedback. I disagree that anyone was intentionally left out of the process.”

Geology and Meteorology classes were originally proposed to be eliminated but are not part of the final proposed cuts. Travis Kibota, division chair of Life Sciences, had submitted feedback that the initial proposed cuts would have made it difficult for students to complete their requirements.

Kibota said the current proposal, which will eliminate Oceanography and cut back on Astronomy, will cause “less of a problem” but its effects will depend on enrollment. “The people who make the schedules will need to be aware that there are fewer options,” Kibota said. “It might affect if students will come to Clark.”

The Instructional Planning Team, which oversees the addition and elimination of career-technical education programs, will need to approve or disapprove the CTE programs proposed to be eliminated. The proposal includes the Fitness Trainer, Medical Radiography, Nursing Assistant Certified, Paralegal and Surveying and Geomatics programs.

The career-technical program cuts on the proposal must be submitted to the IPT by Friday, with implementation dates to be determined.

The Paralegal program, which received an outpour of support from students and members of the law community, is slated to be eliminated. Professor Layne Russell wrote a letter criticizing the Instructional Council for being “secretive,” saying he sees hypocrisy in their stated goals and actions.

“Clark College goes about saying how it supports social justice and equality,” Russell wrote. “Yet the Instructional Council kills a program that would provide a new means to access the courts for the unheard voices of low-income women and children, the majority of which are members of minority groups.”

Lisa Borho, department chair of the Fitness Trainer program, thinks the Instructional Council did not fully consider new data and a counter-proposal to keep the program. She said the same justification will likely be provided to the IPT.

“The data hasn’t changed, it just hasn’t been fully listened to,” Borho said. “I understand the process is challenging, but I’m not sure they really looked at the proposal with fresh eyes and I think the IPT will at least be able to do that.”

The Addiction Counselor Education program was initially proposed to be eliminated but has since been saved and is only proposed to be reduced by eight sections. As part of the proposal, Jim Jensen will lose his job as a program adviser and department chair Marcia Roi will take on that responsibility.

Jensen said students sometimes have difficulty enrolling in classes as it is. “Certainly, cutting eight sections of our program will make those bottlenecks even tighter. It might slow things down for some students if they’re unlucky.”

The Reduction in Force committee, comprised of five faculty, three administrators and one ASCC representative will decide the course of action of the four tenured faculty impacted. “A lot” of adjunct instructors will lose their jobs, according to Cook.

Faculty around the college said they are disappointed that the many hours they spent conducting research and providing counter-proposals did not ultimately change the outcome.

Cook said Russell’s response to the budget cuts should not have been shared with all faculty and staff and said he met privately with Russell to discuss his concerns. He also met privately with Lohr, who accused the administration of having “ulterior motives.”

The vice president said the college needed to cut classes in order to meet the budget deficit and refuted the assertion there was a hidden agenda.

“She can look at any of the data we shared with everyone else,” Cook said. “We had to find $2 million, so if it’s not about money I’m not sure what it would be about. We’re not cutting programs to cut programs. This has not been a fun process.”

Despite opposing views from faculty, Cook said the Instructional Council reviewed all feedback that was received. “We read through all of the data that everyone provided, we just didn’t always agree,” he said. “We never told anyone we would respond back.”

The cuts are being finalized after the Instructional Council, comprised of deans and advisers, pored over feedback from faculty, staff, students and the community for over a month.

The biggest change students will notice is fewer sections of courses being offered, which may make scheduling their classes more difficult. Clark will continue to teach students enrolled in career-technical education programs if the program is cut, according to Cook.

The process started when the Instructional Council developed a rubric to rate programs on job availability, completion rates and student-to-faculty ratios. The raw findings were released in June and the initial proposal of cuts was finalized Sept. 17.

The initial proposal included $2.6 million in cuts, about $600,000 more than was needed to meet the budget deficit. The administration released the proposal with the intention of receiving feedback from those at the college and in the community.

Faculty and staff submitted responses via an online form, community businesses sent letters to the vice president of Instruction and students attended forums to learn and give feedback.

The school’s operating budget, which pays for academic programs, is being targeted after years of enrollment declining as a result of an improving economy and job market. Projects like the new STEM building are not affected by the deficit because they are paid for by the capital budget, which is given to schools across the state as they need it for various ventures.

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