Northwest College To Cut 12% of Workforce Due to Budget Cuts

Northwest College to Cut 12% of Workforce Due to Budget Cuts

Written by on January 12, 2021

Up to 25 positions might be axed as Northwest College tries to offset its current budget shortfall with the cuts anticipated in the years to come.

An internal “Reduction of Force” memo sent Monday afternoon from Interim President Lisa Watson to Northwest College employees shows the extent of the layoffs. The NWC Board of Trustees received and reviewed the memo and is proposed budget cuts during their Jan. 11 meeting.

As of January 2021, NWC has an estimated budget shortfall of $2.6 million.

Furthermore, Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon has released a mandate that reduced funding for all state entities by 15% – a direct result of the pandemic’s impact on the state’s revenues.

One obvious way the college plans to increase tuition rates and course fees. The Wyoming Community College Commission voted on October 8, 2020, to increase tuition rates for all students effective Fall 2021, which will increase tuition revenue by $288,487 per year.

Course fee increases at NWC will bring in an additional $32 thousand a year. Student fee increases will add $250 thousand a year, based on current enrollment at the college.

Some of the steps outlined for possible budget reduction include:

  • Reducing Operating Expenses
    • Some suggestions are reducing student work-study by $100 thousand, reducing the lease expense of the Cody Center by $50 thousand, and reducing student bad debt
  • Reduction in soft dollar scholarships (tuition discounting) – Athletics and other small scholarships
    • The college has already been working to reduce costs in this area, which has shrunk from $800 thousand in scholarships annually to just over $226 thousand
  • Increasing student fees for student teams, activities, and clubs
    • All athletic and sanctioned teams at NWC will remain, but other groups will rely more heavily on fees to sustain themselves.

The most devastating point is the reduction of operating expenses related to personnel.

Several positions are on the chopping block for future budgets. The proposed budget includes a personnel reduction of 24.5 positions – 12% of its workforce – including 11 instructional and auxiliary positions.

One position will be cut from the following areas:

  • Agriculture, Business, and Communications
  • Life, Health, and Science
  • Physical Science
  • Social Science
  • Fitness Center

Two positions will be just from Visual, Performing Arts, and Humanities.

None of the instructional and academic support layoffs will occur during the remainder of the 2020-2021 spring semester.

The hardest-hit area will be the college’s Children Learning and Care Center, which provides daycare options for everyone on campus and has been operating for two decades. According to the internal memo, the college recommends that the center stop all its services as soon as Feb. 26, eliminating and reallocating its $70 thousand in support funding, and cutting all four staff positions.

Other staff reduction recommendations include eliminating the Women’s Soccer Coach, a Campus Security Assistant, the Vice President for Student Services, a librarian, one art and galleries coordinator, a Senior Office Assistant at the Cody Center, and reducing Ag Stock Pavilion academic support.

NWC will be asking for community feedback on the proposed budget and layoffs on their website. The deadline to submit feedback is Jan. 18.

From there, the Board of Trustees will meet discuss the internal and external feedback and prepare final recommendations for the entire Board to consider at their next meeting, Jan. 21 in the Yellowstone Building Conference Center.

The meeting will be streamed on Zoom and include a Citizen’s Open Forum for live feedback on the decisions.

This will likely not be the end of the rapidly tightening budget. NWC Interim President Lisa Watson says the college will continue monitoring the state’s “dire economic situation” which may mean more reductions in the future.

[There are no radio stations in the database]