SCC's Board of Trustees has now voted to terminate the contracts of four faculty members in the last week, the latest of which occurred Monday night. President Michael Ash said all four have requested private hearings with the board.
“The four faculty have preserved their rights by submitting a letter requesting a hearing,” said Ash. “When those might happen or even if those might happen is still unclear. No dates have been set for any of the hearings.”
The teachers losing their jobs are:
- Brian Brooks (welding instructor)
- Robert Kennon (art instructor)
- Ramona Linville (sociology instructor)
- Milo VanVeldhuizen (chemical dependency instructor)
The four faculty members are probationary, which means they have worked at SCC for fewer than three years, easing the process for terminating their contracts.
Ash said the college is facing a $400,000 shortfall in the budget for next fiscal year due to declining enrollment, increasing expenses, and continuing reductions in state aid.
“We’ve wrestled with all sorts of ideas, and none of them were good,” said Ash. “These are the best recommendations we can make in this situation. We have to make the budget adjustments so we don’t put the college in the difficult position where we are way over budget and have no way to pay the bills.”
Ash said the budget reduction plan also calls for the college to not replace two retiring faculty members and to not fill two open faculty positions. He said that’s in addition to leaving open about a dozen other positions, including deans, custodians, and student success advocates.
“We didn’t fill empty positions again this year, but it still wasn’t enough to cover the shortfall, so we had to take more drastic measures to balance the budget,” said Ash. “This plan does that with the least impact on our overall operation and quality of education.”
Ash called the budget reduction process the most challenging part of his job since arriving in southeast Iowa several years ago.
“All community colleges are in the same boat. Enrollment is down pretty much across the board and state dollars are tough to come by. Community colleges are hoping to get around $3 million in new money. Our share of that is only $129,000 and I’m not very optimistic that will be the final number. That’s not even enough to cover the increase in our health care costs,” said Ash.
There is a chance one of the terminations could be reversed without the need for a private hearing.
The administration proposed suspending SCC’s Chemical Dependency program because its lone instructor was one of the faculty members let go (Milo VanVeldhuizen).
But about a dozen current and former students as well as faculty members spoke out in support of the program, which trains substance abuse counselors. Soon after, the Board of Trustees delayed the plans to suspend the program so more information could be collected.
“The administration will review the program again and if we find something that really we didn’t know or we didn’t consider or we need to reconsider, [VanVeldhuizen’s termination] could be rescinded and he could be reinstated and continue on as if nothing ever happened.”
SCC’s Board of Trustees also delayed a vote on a proposed tuition hike of roughly $11/credit hour until it has a better idea of the amount of funding coming from the state. The $11 hike would be an increase of more than 5%.
The proposed tuition increase comes at an inopportune time as the college is serving fewer students. Information provided by the college shows that credit hours have fallen during each of the last six years and total student enrollment is down 20% over the last ten years.
Credit Hours last 10 years
- FY 2007 – 73,360
- FY 2008 – 74,034
- FY 2009 – 75,816
- FY 2010 – 86,246
- FY 2011 – 80,883
- FY 2012 – 70,704
- FY 2013 – 67,522
- FY 2014 – 60,656
- FY 2015 – 60,422
- FY 2016 – 55,000