After proposing monumental cuts in funding across the college to remedy the current budget deficit, the Instructional Council is gathering feedback to prepare to make final decisions.
Faculty and staff were able to voice their responses by attending forums Sept. 17 and 18. and via an online survey that will be available until Friday. The Instructional Council, comprised of deans, directors and analysts, will then begin to evaluate the feedback.
Instructional areas targeted by the proposal across the college along with the extent to which they could be cut vary.
The Humanities department, which provides 40 sections per year, could be eliminated.
According to Vice President of Instruction Tim Cook, spikes in the number of classes, specifically in social sciences and humanities departments, were not reevaluated enough after the college’s 2010 expansion slowed. Cook raised the question of whether this potentially prevents other classes from being offered.
Several science programs have also been targeted for possible reduction. Oceanography and meteorology could be wiped out entirely, and the number of geology and astronomy classes could be cut in half.
Many of Clark’s STEM faculty believe the unaffected classes don’t have enough open seats to pick up the slack and submitted their analysis of the implications of the proposed cuts.
“That analysis was of the number of open seats in our science classes and whether a student seeking general science credits would be likely to fill those seats,” said Travis Kibota, biology professor and division head of life sciences. “How many reasonable seats are open in our science classes? It turns out there’s not many.”
Cook admitted that while healthcare is a good candidate to grow and change in the future, medical programs could potentially end up on the chopping block.
“I’ve gotten a bunch of emails and letters from some of the healthcare providers in the county that have some concerns about nursing, medical radiography and addictions counseling,” he said.
Under the current proposal, medical radiography and the certified nursing assistant programs would be removed entirely, and the nursing program would see a reduction in accepted students from 48 to 32 per quarter.
The paralegal program could also face termination because it is competing with other training providers in the region to fill only 50 job openings over the next five years, according to the Instructional Council. A similar fate may be in store for the addiction counselor program.
Second-year Spanish and Japanese classes may be cut, while the entire German and French departments could be dropped.
Physical education was not spared, with a proposed downsizing of 60 sections per year, meaning fewer choices for students. In addition, the fitness trainer program, which provides an AAS degree, has been slated for possible elimination.
Although speech and debate, drama and model United Nations courses might be eliminated, the non-credit components could continue to be funded by ASCC under the current proposal. This means students could still participate in play performances and model U.N., but not as part of a class.
“We’re just funding the ability to get credit for those,” Cook said. “Students can still do all of those, they just wouldn’t get credit for it.”
Citing the “implementation of accelerated math pathways”, the Instructional Council has proposed the reduction of 30 sections of math classes per year.
The music, surveying and geomatics, business technology and pharmacy technician programs have also had reductions proposed.
No one can say for sure how many faculty will be impacted until the feedback analysis concludes, but Cook estimates a maximum of four to six full-time positions could be impacted, with the majority of those being put through the Reduction in Force process.
Through the RIF process, if a full-time tenured faculty member is qualified for a position in another department, he or she has a contractual right to that position, even if it means bumping adjuncts or faculty with less seniority.
Although the RIF process would begin in November, it would not conclude for a while and faculty would not be notified for some time. A committee consisting of faculty and administrators is assembled to review cases, as well as an Instructional Planning Team. According to Cook, the process could take a year or more.
Based on data provided by the Vice President of Instruction, the number of annual full-time enrolled students has declined by 19 percent since 2010, and the number of class sections offered have already shrunk by 32 percent.
Clark has the opportunity to gain incentive-based funding from the state by way of the Student Achievement Initiative, which Cook said provides funding when a student moves from pre-college math and English courses into college-level courses.
Compared with other schools in the state, Clark has not been as successful earning SAI rewards.
“I would say we’ve been lagging,” Cook said.
Now the college looks to the future.
Cook, who meets quarterly with the leadership of community colleges across the state, said the college has a plan to create new programs and fund existing ones when enrollment returns.
“Our biggest challenge is that we’re so tied to the economy,” he said. “We’ll always have fluctuations in enrollment because of the economy. We can’t completely stop that, but we need to move away from being so tied to it.”
He cautioned the school needs to be more careful in its expansion than it was in 2010.
“As we add, we have to be in a position to ask what happens when we start falling off again.”
On Sept. 25, the Clark College Board of Trustees passed the 2015-16 budget. While the budget is slightly higher than last year, President Bob Knight said declining enrollment, an increase in wages and increased contributions toward health care have left the college with $2.7 million less to allocate.
“We are currently in a difficult budget cutting discussion in Instruction, and it does seem like these have been ongoing for the past several years,” Knight said. “We have left several key administrative positions open across the college … to save money. However, with the cuts taken across the college last year, and the thoughtful process that Instruction is currently undertaking, we will be better positioned in future years.”
Editor’s note: For more detailed information on how faculty from each department is affected, check out Issue 3 which comes out Oct. 21.