St. Louis Community College Cuts Could Affect 95 Employees

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St. Louis Community College - Forest Park is one of the college's four campuses. - Screen grab via Google Maps.
Screen grab via Google Maps.
St. Louis Community College - Forest Park is one of the college's four campuses.
A number of full-time faculty members at St. Louis Community College could be looking for new jobs in the not-so-distant future. 

At a Board of Trustees meeting on November 30, the college's leaders are slated to discuss a cost-cutting scenario that would eliminate about 18 percent of full-time faculty positions, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. The scenario is part of the board's plan to address a financial crunch due to declining enrollment and state budget cuts.

A report spread throughout the four St. Louis Community College campuses last weekend said that the cuts could reach as many as 70 faculty members. Until the meeting next month, however, the report is meant "for discussion purposes only."

According to the Post-Dispatch, Chancellor Jeff Pittman anticipates the draft of the report will see numerous changes before the November 30 board meeting. A special Board of Trustees meeting is scheduled for November 14 as an opportunity for administrators to garner more input.

The daily says that STLCC's four campuses currently enroll 18,835 students — about 200 fewer than the previous school year — with a drop of more than 10,000 students using its services since 2011. In addition, state funding has dropped by $3.58 million this budget year.

Unfortunately, the future doesn't look particularly optimistic. The report says that college leaders expect that the system could face a $12.9 million deficit by budget year 2020. Changes such as temporarily suspending sabbaticals, reviewing academic programs each year and offering another voluntary buyout for employees are among the recommendations.

The Post-Dispatch says that Pittman announced a voluntary buyout package this year; 117 of the 529 eligible employees took advantage of it. A second round of buyouts could help mitigate the need for more cuts, which could hit 70 full-time faculty and as many as 25 other employees.

Pittman reasoned in the report that eliminating 70 employees would help the college avoid larger cuts to "other employee groups" that could affect "critical student services that are necessary to meet the need of the college," according the Post-Dispatch.

Financial stress isn't the only drama STLCC has faced as of late. The college also came into the media spotlight after an October 19 Board of Trustees meeting, where adjunct professor Steve Taylor was body slammed and arrested by a police officer. Taylor was then unceremoniously fired via a letter that said he would be subject to arrest if he returned to any of the STLCC campuses.

In the Montage, the Meramec campus' student-run newspaper, Taylor has called for Pittman's dismissal.

“I feel like the college is under attack by this relative newcomer who doesn’t understand the culture,” Taylor told the paper. “Pittman has shown no real true leadership. He’s responsible for the culture. I think we can turn it around, but not with chancellor Pittman at the helm.”

Pittman responded to Taylor's accusations to the student paper, noting his accomplishments since taking over as chancellor in 2015.

“The culture that I’ve been working on is one of civility, one of transparency and one of accountability,” Pittman said.

As for the November 30 meeting and looming possibility of cuts, Pittman is sympathetic to those at the college.

“Change is scary, hard and stressful,” he told the Montage. “I feel for all of our faculty, staff and students through these times.”

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