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Board of Trustees Approves Voluntary Separation Incentive Programs

The St. Louis Community College Board of Trustees approved two voluntary separation incentive programs designed to minimize the need for a reduction in force.

At its Nov. 30 meeting, the Board approved recommendations from the College’s Budget Response Team to address current financial realities that include $5 million in budget cuts from the state of Missouri and declining enrollment. The recommendations – developed by administrative leaders, faculty and staff from all STLCC campuses – included a second voluntary separation incentive plan; an increase in cost-sharing of employee insurance premiums; implementation of a program viability process; reducing up to 70 faculty and reducing non-faculty positions by as many as 25.

The voluntary separation incentive programs, or VSIPs, provide options to faculty and staff who are either age 55 or older as of July 31, 2018, and who have completed five years or more of continuous, full-time service before July 31, 2018; or, who have completed 20 years or more of continuous, full-time service as a College employee prior to July 31, 2018.

One plan, for any eligible College employee agreeing to voluntarily separate from the College on a specified date, offers either 24 months of employee-only subsidized medical insurance, or a one-time cash payment of up to $20,000, depending on the employee’s length of full-time, continuous service. A second VSIP, only for eligible full-time faculty, offers a one-time lump sum payment of up to 50 percent of the faculty member’s base salary, up to $50,000, in exchange for their voluntary separation from the College in July 2018.

By offering employees a range of incentives to motivate their voluntary separation from College employment, the College expects to minimize the need to rely on involuntary layoffs to achieve similar savings of salaries and benefits for positions it does not need to refill.

In accordance with the labor agreement between the College and the St. Louis National Education Association, staff affected by the reduction in force were notified in writing by Dec. 15. Staff will continue their roles with the College through May 2018, the end of the academic year. District leaders followed criteria in the joint resolution to determine reductions, such as seniority, program continuity, instructional specialization and staffing guidelines.

“It’s important to understand that a reduction in force is not the same as being fired from a position,” said Andrew Langrehr, Ph.D., vice chancellor for academic affairs. “When someone is fired, which we usually call a dismissal, it’s disciplinary and employment does not continue. A reduction in force, or layoff notice, is not related to performance. The folks who were notified of the reduction in force will continue to have their jobs through the spring semester.

“We expect faculty members will find the terms of the VSIPs generous and a much-preferred alternative to layoffs,” Langrehr added. “If the College does not need to fill vacancies created by employees accepting the VSIP, the need to eliminate positions through one of the approved programs can be avoided.”