Area schools’ budget short by $1 million
Capital Area Technical College plans to lay off workers, restructure contracts, leave positions vacant and reduce some employee hours across its four Baton Rouge-area campuses to cope with a $1 million budget cut from the state.
Community and technical colleges in the central, northeast and northwest parts of Louisiana are taking similar restructuring approaches that administrators said will avert larger-scale layoffs.
On their way to balancing the state’s budget, Gov. Bobby Jindal and the state Legislature cut $66 million from Louisiana’s public colleges for the fiscal year that began on July 1.
The Louisiana Community and Technical College System will absorb about $20 million of those budget reductions, according to a compilation from the state’s higher education governing board.
CATC is looking at a roughly $9 million operating budget this year, down from $10 million last year.
Chancellor Kay McDaniel said the restructuring plan in place in the Baton Rouge area is unavoidable after three significant budget reductions in the past three years.
The plan at CATC will affect more than a dozen employees, with three layoffs in the works, McDaniel said.
The chancellor declined to name which positions will be eliminated Wednesday because she hadn’t notified the affected employees.
McDaniel said 13 other employees will be affected, including 11 instructors who will have their 12-month contracts modified into nine-month agreements.
McDaniel said some of those employees could have the opportunity to pick up summer job contracts.
Two other employees will have scaled-back work weeks going from 40 hours to 32 hours per week, McDaniel said.
Additionally, three vacant positions — a nursing instructor, an information technology instructor and a registrar in the student services division — will be frozen for the time being, McDaniel said.
The school posted a warning on its website about a month ago giving faculty and staff at CATC time to brace for the shakeup, but McDaniel said she regretted having reached the point where making these types of difficult decisions was necessary.
Of the positions that have been modified, McDaniel said they were done in such a way that employees would keep their health benefits.
Administrators also took into account teaching positions with historically low enrollment and completion rates before making the modifications, McDaniel said.
“Our goal was to not have our students be affected,” McDaniel said. “When you look at our mission, it is to train the workforce. We do that by teaching our students.”
Quintin Taylor, a spokesman for Louisiana Community and Technical College System, said reduced funding is “the new business model” to which schools will have to adjust.
“In the LCTCS, even one layoff is too many. I’m grateful our chancellors were able to be creative to minimize the impact on our students and help employees keep their benefits.”
On a related topic, CATC has extended its registration and financial aid application deadlines to Friday. Orientation has been expanded to include Thursday sessions at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Testing for new students will be held from 9 a.m. to noon on Thursday.