St. Louis Community College Board of Trustees will take action on proposed recommendations to address the college’s current financial realities including a $5 million budget cut from the state of Missouri and declining enrollment post-recession. The board will meet Thursday, Nov. 30 at 7 p.m. at the Cosand Center, 300 S. Broadway.
To date, STLCC has already taken several steps to reduce its budget:
A 20 percent reduction in the number of administrators within academic affairs and at the leadership level since 2015.
- Voluntary separation incentive plan for full-time employees.
- Reduced operating costs by reviewing and analyzing spending.
- Freezing non-critical and unfilled positions.
- Selling the Cosand Center building, the administrative offices of the college, located in downtown St. Louis.
The proposed recommendations include a second voluntary separation incentive plan, an increase in cost-sharing of employee benefits, audits and possible reduction of programs and courses that can be cut from the College, reducing faculty by up to 70 people, and reducing non-faculty positions by as many as 25. STLCC’s enrollment has decreased by 35 percent from 32,000 students in 1990 to approximately 19,000 in 2018.
It is a priority for STLCC to control expenses to ensure that tuition and fees remain affordable for students, while allowing the College to focus on programs that have increased student and regional demand, such as healthcare professional training and dual enrollment programs.
Currently, there are three significant areas contributing to STLCC’s budget situation:
- A $5 million reduction in funds from the state of Missouri due to declines in tax revenue;
- A 35 percent decline in enrollment between 2011 and 2015;
- New federal accounting standards that require STLCC to cover an unfunded portion of the Public School Retirement System for employees, which has resulted in STLCC being out of compliance with board policy for unrestricted net assets, or reserves.
Under the leadership of Dr. Jeff L. Pittman, chancellor, STLCC recognizes that failure to act to address the budget situation will result in financial instability, putting the College’s future in jeopardy as support from the state continues to decrease.
Also, the College’s workforce numbers aren’t in compliance with board policy that calls for total faculty and staff expenditures not to exceed 75 percent.
STLCC is in a similar position as other area colleges that have implemented reductions in force to address budget issues.
A timeline to address concerns
In July 2017, the board asked STLCC administration to address concerns regarding the budget and the financial stability of the College. A Budget Response Team was created with five work groups: Employee Optimization, Employee Benefits Analysis, Employee Overload/Overtime/Sabbatical Analysis, Program Review/Consolidation and Departmental Outsourcing and Consolidation. Work groups involved administration, faculty, staff, employee and union representatives; groups were tasked with providing input to present to the Board before its Nov. 30 regular meeting. All STLCC employees were invited to voluntarily participate in a group.
A public work session was held on Oct. 30 to focus on the recommendations of the Budget Response Team work groups. Documents provided to the board were for discussion purposes only.
On Nov. 14, the board held a special meeting for public comments related to the recommendations. During the session, 24 people addressed the board to share their concerns.
Expectations for attendance
The College expects the Nov. 30 meeting to be well-attended by faculty, staff and students who have voiced concerns about the budget since the start of the school year.
The Nov. 30 meeting will include an opportunity for public comments. Those wishing to address the Board must sign up prior to the 7:00 start of the open meeting, and will be given two minutes to address the Board. The STLCC Board of Trustees is allowing a total of 30 minutes for public comments. Written comments are encouraged – – please send comments to Becky Garrison at firstname.lastname@example.org.