For more than a year, authorities have cut off five programs at Santa Fe Community College, dismissing several workers in a second round of labor cuts, in what has been called a financial emergency, mainly associated with the cholera epidemic.
In early May, the college announced that it would discontinue solar energy, fitness science, hospitality, fashion design, building and interior design programs. He cut six vacancies and eight vacancies.
The news comes after the college’s board of directors approved a budget of $ 36.1 million for fiscal year 2022, a shortfall of $ 1.2 million due to revenue shortfalls and rising costs. Officials say the program and staff reductions have saved more than $ 450,000 and that nearly $ 380,000 in cash has helped cover the gap.
Last year, the school lost $ 2 million in tuition and enrollment deductions.
“Attitudes toward education and payrolls are still very low,” said Nick Teles, vice president of finance.
He said the board should have declared a state of emergency to start cutting in May 2020. At the time, the college campus was closed during the first weeks of the epidemic, and 80 workers were fired.
With $ 7.8 million left in the school’s cash reserves — essential funds for short-term expenses and emergencies — some teachers’ representatives are questioning the need for more cuts.
They are asking for clear guidelines on fiscal emergencies, as the college president, who is open to problems with the board, staff, and the community, will have greater control over staff placement and program decisions.
In a recent interview, Stephen Degulio, president of the Teachers’ Union, said:
“This can be verified on a regular basis, and I hope they will accept concrete standards and make that mandatory [requirements] They must be met to declare a state of emergency. ”
The State Department of Higher Education monitors key fiscal standards for colleges, approves operating budgets and monitors budgets, and does not provide special criteria for schools to declare financial emergencies.
Teles’ declaration of a state of emergency last year – and the ability to shut down workers who could not work on the campus – was key to preventing millions of dollars in planned losses.
“We’re moving forward now to find out how the bookstore and the food service will be restored,” said Becky Rowell, president of Santa Fe Community College.
Officials said at a board meeting earlier this year that the college was struggling with revenue shortfalls due to a reduction in enrollment, and that federal aid for one-time colleges had provided much longer.
Decreased enrollment and closure of higher education institutions during the epidemic are common causes of financial crisis. However, a spokesman for the Department of Higher Education said that while some of the revised financial control plans remain in place, the agency does not know of any other schools in the region that have declared a state of emergency.
Santa Fe Community College students may not excel in closed programs, but lessons are still taught on those topics. In those programs, current high school students can complete their degrees.
The college has recommended that the one-student hospitality program be closed after a four-year audit process, the college said. However, after a special audit due to the epidemic, the other programs were shut down.
The school has evaluated costs, tuition, teacher numbers, and job opportunities for students in a variety of programs, he said.
“We still have programs with low enrollment,” he said. There are a number of reasons why we chose this.
According to the college, only three students enrolled in the solar energy program during the audit.
Kubi Wilson, head of the solar program, said other students have been involved in other fields through the college’s School of Business Education, Advanced Technology and Sustainability.
Wilson, who has been with the school for more than a decade and helped lead the teachers’ union, will continue as an additional professor.
He said enrollment in the solar program was high a few years ago, but has slowed down recently.
Meanwhile, solar energy companies, such as Santa Fe-based Positive Energy Solar, are hoping to find ways to fill the gap in solar education. The company sent a statement to the board of directors on May 11 expressing regret over the closure of the program.
Santa Fe Community College and Central New Mexico Community College are the only solar-powered schools in the area, the company said.
“While the workplace is struggling to find people, there are a growing number of solar companies,” said Christopher Fortson, director of positive energy solar marketing. There are more companies working here than ever before.
Wilson does not believe the school has good reason to cut off the solar program.
“I think it’s wrong,” he said. “The solar program was one of the most expensive programs in degree and credit time.
It is not yet clear what decisions the school will make regarding the requirements for an emergency. At a recent board meeting, faculty chairman Kate McCall said the group wanted to work with Royley to establish it.
“I think that’s something we need to look at,” says Rowley. “I do not know the answer to that question. And I don’t have any special advice right now.
He added: “I really don’t like the way we do this. But this is what we should do.