Press-Republican

December 23, 2012

CCC staffer: Layoff would hurt enrollment

By JENNIFER MESCHINELLI
Press-Republican

---- — PLATTSBURGH — A Clinton Community College employee recently pressed for reinstatement of one of the positions tapped for elimination there.

“The worst mistake we can make is to decrease our recruiting efforts at a time when competition has never been fiercer,” Admissions Adviser Martha Hewitt read from a letter to the CCC Board of Trustees at Tuesday night’s meeting.

“When the layoff news came out in October, I was sure our president would be ‘beefing up’ admissions staffing and recruiting efforts, not reducing positions.”

In her letter, Hewitt asked that the layoff of a member of the admissions staff be reconsidered. 

‘FRUGAL SPENDING’

At a special meeting at the end of November, the board authorized the elimination of 10 employee positions in 2013-14 as a measure to help meet a $600,000 budget shortfall. 

Jablonski said earlier that the deficit is mostly due to a loss of state aid, along with increasing retirement and health-insurance costs.

Students held a protest a week later, hoping the decision would be reversed, but as of thsi week’s meeting, the board remained firm on the issue.

“Across the college, we continue to be frugal,” Jablonski said. “We are not spending as usual — there’s no doubt about that — everyone is operating under heavy constraints.”

‘SALES DEPARTMENT’

Hewitt called Admissions the “sales department” for the entire college. 

She believes that “decreasing the number of admissions advisers will cause a faster decline in enrollment numbers and the entire college will suffer further layoffs and lower FTEs (full-time equivalent students).”

Hewitt also noted at the session that lower numbers of high-school graduates in the future will decrease enrollment — forcing all community colleges to compete and market outside their home counties. 

She fears cuts in budget and staff will reduce CCC’s ability to compete with other schools. To emphasize her points, she showed numerous examples of recruitment incentives other schools offered.

But Jablonski told the Press-Republican that he didn’t believe losing the admissions position will hurt enrollment. 

He first clarified the title of the position: student support specialist/athletic specialist/admissions adviser.

“A substantial part of that job was coaching,” he said. 

ENROLLMENT NUMBERS

As to reports of low enrollment, Jablonski said, the 2012 numbers had dropped from their peak from 2011 but were still 11 percent higher than five years ago.

At the end of the college’s fiscal year in August 2012, enrollment was 1,563 full-time equivalent students, with August 2011 —the all-time high — at 1,627.

By comparison, Jablonski said, in 2007 there were 1,404.

“We served our record for the highest number of students with the lowest amount of state aid in a decade,” he said.

He also noted that despite the budget cuts and employee layoffs, all degrees and certification programs will remain intact for the coming year and that the operating budget will be balanced.

Board Chairperson Nina Coolidge accepted Hewitt’s letter on behalf of the board and said it would taken under consideration.