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NHTI cuts 14 positions to close $3 million shortfall

NHTI has cut its workforce by 14 positions and trimmed other expenses to close an expected budget gap of about $3 million, in a move that has been sharply derided by faculty.

The expected 2015 budget gap announced yesterday is the result of increased expenses, primarily for payroll and benefits, and a decline in fall enrollment revenue.

The plan trimmed 14 positions, including six faculty and eight staff. One part-time and four full-time faculty members were cut. Two full-time staff members were also notified last week that they would not be recalled for the fall semester. Also, one full-time faculty post and six staff positions that were vacated will not be filled. The school has 113 full-time faculty members and 170 full-time staff members, in addition to 200 adjunct faculty and 80 part-time staffers. The cuts, coupled with other staffing and programming changes, will save about $1.8 million.

“We’ve made what we think are significant steps in terms of dealing with the budget deficit, but we have to keep looking at it,” said Alan Blake, director of communications at NHTI.

A list of the cuts was not immediately available, but Blake said they were made in part based on program enrollment.

In addition to staff cuts, NHTI has implemented more than $1 million in cuts to nonpayroll budget items and shifted $432,000 in expenses from the operating budget to auxiliary budgets funded by other revenue sources. NHTI will continue to watch its budget closely and review academic programs, while looking at increasing maximum class size for some courses and adjusting some employment schedules to better reflect current needs, according to officials.

Faculty and staff were “greatly saddened” to learn of the cuts, said Laura Morgan, president of Faculty Forum, a group representing the college’s faculty.

“The programs which serve Concord and the overall quality of the education at NHTI are unquestionably diminished by these losses,” Morgan said in a statement. “Both the faculty and staff are especially aggrieved to read the financial explanations for these losses, losses which required both the students and the faculty to make sacrifices in both class size and the number and depth of offerings.”

The cuts follow 15 years of significant growth at NHTI, including a stretch in 2009 and 2010 that saw annual enrollment increase 10 percent and 14 percent, respectively. The growth was a boon, bringing with it nine new positions, the reinstatement of four positions that had been temporarily frozen and the upgrading of four part-time positions to full time.

“We felt this was overdue and critical to meeting the demands on staff and faculty resources of a growing student population,” Blake said. “We are now in a period of declining high school graduating rates.”

Tuition and fees make up 70 percent of the operating budget, and the remaining 30 percent comes from state aid.

Since 2010, fall enrollments have declined 2 percent annually, and students on average are taking nine credits a semester, down from 10 in recent years. “That’s a 10 percent reduction in credit revenue,” Blake said.

Fall 2015 enrollment is down 7 percent compared with the same time last year, a result of greater competition between colleges to attract a smaller pool of prospective students, Blake said.

Payroll and benefits account for 80 percent of the college’s $28.7 million operating budget. This year and last, staff and faculty received 3 percent and 5 percent raises, respectively, agreements that increased the operating budget by about $1.8 million. The raises were well-deserved and helped bring NHTI in line with industry norms, Blake said.

In criticizing the cuts, Morgan said no comparable sacrifices have been made at the administrative level.

“In our view, the layoffs would be unnecessary if the Board of the Community College (System of New Hampshire) and its chancellor considered the offers of early retirement put forth by the Faculty Forum, and shouldered some of the fiscal hardship they have placed on students, faculty and staff,” she said.

NHTI will continue to focus on student success while reassessing staff, faculty and program needs, and evaluating operational structure to ensure efficient budget use, Blake said.

(Iain Wilson can be reached at 369-3313 or iwilson@cmonitor.com.)

Legacy Comments3

Why is the enrollment down in a time where trade and technical careers should be on the upswing? I would think that careers in health, mechanics, electrical and plumbing would be areas that are needed. Also child care would seem to me to be an area that is in demand. if enrollment is down, it just might be as simple as the courses offered are just not filling the needs of what students are looking for. Or the cost is just too high, which happens in many schools that are poorly run.

Should they really be freezing tuition for a few years if they have these serious budget issues??? Didn't the state university system recently announce their intention to freeze tuition? Probably should apply the breaks to that plan.

Higher education has never used budgets to control cost. They have just asked for more taxpayer money and raised tuitions EVERY year. Time to run higher education like it really is - a business. If the cost is too high, the people will not by it.

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