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Budget crunch forcing college to cut its staff

By Holly Fesperman LeeSalisbury Post
Facing a potential $600,000 reduction in its state-funded budget, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College will cut part-time faculty and consolidate some classes this year.
Senior Vice President Jerry Chandler said enrollment declined last year from the large numbers the college saw after Kannapolis-based Pillowtex closed in 2003.
“Now that our enrollment is down again, we have to absorb that budget decrease,” he said.
Community colleges receive state money each year based on enrollment figures from the previous year.
Chandler said school officials knew funding would eventually decrease as former Pillowtex workers found other jobs and completed or left the college’s retraining programs. The school did plan for that in some ways, he said, by using money for one-time expenses like new equipment rather than recurring expenses like large numbers of new faculty members.
“Obviously, we had to hire additional part-time faculty and other staff folks when we had the Pillowtex situation,” Chandler said. “As our budget reduces because of declining enrollment we have to cut back on some part-time faculty.”
Chandler said the college plans to eliminate about 25 part-time positions. The school can handle some of the cuts through attrition, meaning that when employees resign or retire, they may not be replaced, he said.
The college is also cutting back on other expenses, Chandler said, including supplies and travel for staff development. For several weeks, faculty and staff have been working together to find ways to reduce spending.
As a result of the part-time faculty cutbacks, full-time faculty will have increased teaching loads. Chandler said he didn’t anticipate any changes in program offerings to students at this point.
“We feel confident that we can meet that shortfall without any drastic discontinuance of programs,” he said.
While the budget shortfall isn’t good, Chandler said it’s not unusual.
“We’ve gone through this before. It’s not the first time that the colleges or other colleges have had enrollment reductions,” Chandler said.
Rowan-Cabarrus won’t know exactly how much state funding it will receive, or exactly how big a budget hole it faces, until mid-August, but Chandler said the college is planning for the $600,000 reduction.
“We’re not really sure it’s going to be $600,000, but we like to be ready,” Chandler said. “We’re ready to deal with that if it occurs.”
Contact Holly Lee at 704-797-7683 or hlee@salisburypost.com.

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