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CCC cuts, but avoids heavy layoffs

The college will leave 24 positions vacant and increase tuition by $3 per credit hour in an effort to fill an $8.5 million shortfall

Clackamas Community College last week announced a broad-based strategy - including tuition and fee hikes - to deal with an $8.5 million budget shortfall caused by a drop in state funding.

The state slashed community college funding for the second biennium in a row, but CCC was able to minimize the damage to some degree. They will eliminate 26 positions, 24 of which will be vacant due to retirement, leaving only two layoffs. Tuition will increase $3 per credit hour from $74 to $77, a 4 percent spike. CCC also increased the student technology fee from $3 to $4.50 per hour, meaning the total cost per credit hour increases by $4.50. That still leaves CCC on par with or cheaper than surrounding Mount Hood and Portland community colleges.

Still, the cuts will have an impact on students beyond steeper tuition. Fewer professors means fewer sections of some classes, though no programs have been cut.

'We're ensuring that when a student makes a commitment to us that we will be able to move them through toward a degree or their career and technical education in a quality way and in a timely way,' said CCC President Joanne Truesdell.

In the 2007-09 biennium, Oregon community colleges received $500 million in state support. Funding declined by 10 percent to $450 million at the start of the current biennium (2009-11), and continued to decline to $417 million as state revenues plummeted. CCC's budget shortfall is about $8.5 million over the next biennium.

CCC has placed a bond on the May ballot that would pay for a number of facility upgrades and will hold a series of forums on that bond over the next few weeks (see story on page 6). The money from that bond is not available for operational costs, but Truesdell said a bigger slice of the college budget would be needed to maintain aging facilities if the bond fails.

In an interview prior to the March board meeting, CCC board member Chuck Clemans said the college had little choice but to make some sort of tuition increase, but said the board did not want to 'price our students out of the market.' He's hoping the college can reach out and let students know about their options for financial aid.

'So many students didn't know it was available or don't know how to access (financial aid) and we're really helping students to make sure they know of every dollar that's available to them,' Clemans said.

CCC savings measures include:

• Utilizing available reserves - $1 million per year

The CCC board's policy is to retain a general fund balance of at least 6 percent of the college's budget. CCC is able to do that and still dedicate this amount from reserves.

• Increased revenue - $1 million

Through increased tuition and technology fees.

• Savings and efficiencies - $2.25 million

The college received feedback from students, staff and the community over the past several months. Some of the savings include

• Attrition/hiring freeze: Over the past several years, the college has reduced overall generall fund full-time staff positions by about 50 FTE.

• CCC said 30 separate actions will lead to about $710,000 in savings. They include: tighter controls on travel, supplies and food; more energy conservation; more efficiencies from the CCC liability insurance program and bookstore; improved student accounts receivable collections; possible department consolidation; and more.

• Staff reductions - $100,000 per year

While most positions will be vacated through attrition, two people will lose their jobs.