SMC plans new cuts

Published 1:10 am Friday, May 13, 2005

By Staff
DOWAGIAC - Southwestern Michigan College Board of Trustees met Tuesday night for its first meeting since last week's unsuccessful millage vote.
The meeting focused on additional cuts to be made, while the somber tone of the meeting mirrored the pre-vote informational piece, "With reduced state funding, educational opportunities cannot be expanded and current programs and services cannot continue as usual if this vote fails."
According to SMC President Dr. David Mathews, "Additional significant cuts will have to be made that go well beyond those that have been made.
According to SMC records, the base funding cuts that the college has experienced from the State of Michigan, along with elimination of job training funds, have combined with the Headlee rollback to reduce SMC's total revenue by more than $2 million per year.
Board of Trustees Chairman Dr. Fred L. Mathews said, "SMC cut costs for three consecutive years before going to the people for a millage vote.
According to the informational brochure sent by the college to residents before the election, with the millage SMC would have been able to expand nursing and human services to address local demand, create an information technology certification center, expand bachelor's degree programming, support job training and economic development and provide for ongoing support of operations and facilities.
Chairman Mathews continued, "Each of these initiatives will be evaluated over the coming months to determine their ultimate fate. Also, all of the non-academic activities that the College currently is involved in will be examined for possible elimination. We expect that that process will take several months to finalize."
In the meantime, the Board approved a short-list of items that would be cut immediately. These include the elimination of eight full-time positions, some through attrition, some through not filling vacancies, and some by reduction to part-time status. Additionally, the College will freeze the faculty and staff salary scales at the current level, but unlike the last freeze will allow step-movement and/or longevity recognition. Third, the College will immediately eliminate the Starlight Performing Arts Series and the Performing Arts Tour performances at area schools.
According to President Mathews, "This first round of cuts includes those items that were identified in our contingency planning before the vote, but represent only about $300,000 in net savings. This will allow the administration to bring a budget forward next month that is in balance for the current calendar year.