EVERETT — About 85 part-time hourly positions have been eliminated at Everett Community College because of campus closures and potential cuts to state funding amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The job reductions are expected to save the school about $500,000 in the 2020-21 fiscal year. Workers who lost their jobs include office and fitness center assistants. Full-time employees are still available to staff those departments.
Nearly all classes were moved online after Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay-home order in March. Campus has been pretty much empty and some buildings have been closed. President Daria Willis expects the reduced activity to continue into the upcoming school year, she wrote in a letter sent to staff on Friday.
“As a result of significantly decreased revenue and lack of work, we must reduce our staffing levels,” she wrote.
The cuts were first reported by The Clipper, the college’s student newspaper.
Of the college’s $72 million budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year, roughly 45% came from the state, said Shelby Burke, the school’s interim associate vice president of finance.
It’s not clear yet how much the school will receive from the state for the 2020-21 fiscal year. That number is expected within the next month or so.
All state agencies, including community and technical colleges, have been asked to prepare for 15% budget cuts, spokesperson Katherine Schiffner said.
More than 8,500 students were enrolled at Everett Community College for spring quarter — 12% less when compared to the same time last year, Schiffner said. Although, she noted, some students did take on more credits than usual.
To save money in other ways, the school has also reduced travel and has purchased fewer supplies. For example, printing is down now that most students and employees are connecting from home.
Some vacant positions also will not be filled, said Sue Williamson, interim vice president of human resources.
No decisions have been made about more cuts or if these positions could be brought back.
“Until we actually have our state allocation we don’t know what that’s going to look like,” Williamson said.
It’s difficult to come up with an exact number of part-time hourly jobs on campus, because some are filled by people paid from other funds separate from the operating budget, such as students who work as part of their financial aid, Williamson said.
The job cuts are not technically classified as layoffs, but are a result of no work, she said. People in these sorts of hourly positions are hired with the understanding that there will be work when it’s available, but because of the recent changes on campus that help is no longer needed.
Many workers who were let go have not been on the clock since February because of the school closures, Williamson said.
Those who lost their jobs may be eligible to file for unemployment benefits, Burke added.
The last time the college made these kinds of job reductions would have been a little more than a decade ago during the Great Recession, Williamson said.
College leadership helped make the final decisions and ultimately it was up to Willis, the school’s president.
“We appreciate the work and the support of all of the hourly employees, and it became a very difficult decision to go through this process,” Williamson said. “Our interest is to continue to make sure we provide students support and make sure that our students are successful, but in a severe budget crunch we are making some very difficult decisions.”
This story originally reported layoffs included custodial staff, which is not the case, and that part-time employees who have been laid off are eligible to file for unemployment benefits. This corrected version clarifies that to say the laid-off workers MAY be eligible to file for unemployment benefits.