Clark President Bob Knight hopes the college can avoid a faculty strike, Knight said on Monday. Currently, Clark faculty are actively campaigning for higher salaries.
“I hope it doesn’t happen,” Knight said. “They can strike, but I can’t you know, squeeze blood out of a turnip. So I hope they wouldn’t do that.”
Knight’s comments followed an hour long, open forum in front of over 50 deans, administrators and instructors to discuss the questions and concerns of the Clark community. The focus quickly turned to talk of the upcoming budget cuts affecting the college.
Penguin Union Building 258 was packed as Knight began to address the assembled community members. As the forum got underway, more chairs had to be brought in to accommodate the crowd.
With budget cuts looming, many of the faculty showed concern. Kimberly Sullivan, the faculty union representative, asked Knight early on about the 2016 budget cuts, but much of the meeting was spent discussing future budget cuts.
Sachi Horback, vice president of instruction, answered questions from faculty concerning future budget cuts and making decisions for guided pathways.
“We are two-thirds of the budget,” Horback said. “It’s a perfect storm.”
With the budget committee working hard to find a solution, Knight also encouraged faculty and staff to address the state themselves the same way K-12 educators had done with the McCleary act.
Knight has already asked the state for a 12 percent pay increase for instruction, indicating that beyond that there would have to be budget cuts, he said.
“We have to go to legislators together,” he said.
Following the McCleary decision in the fall of 2018, K-12 teachers went on strike to get higher pay.
This year, departments are being asked to cut five percent. This year’s cuts are a bit deeper to reallocate funds for implementing guided pathways, Knight said.
During the open discussion, art professor Kathrena Halsinger, questioned how the cuts will be decided. She expressed concern that students often find that the classes they need are full or unavailable when they need them.
“How are we going to retain students when we don’t have the funding?” Horback said in response.