BCCC announces personnel cuts

Published 5:35 pm Monday, March 7, 2016

From Beaufort County Community College 

Due to a drop in full-time equivalent (FTE) students, Beaufort County Community College is making a necessary 10-percent budget cut across the board. While supply, travel and equipment budgets will be reduced, personnel will also be reduced due to its disproportionate share of the budget. This budget reduction is similar to budget reductions at other rural community colleges across North Carolina.

BCCC experienced a reduction in FTE students in 2015 due to the recovering economy and the discontinuation of the Federal Direct Loan Program at BCCC. The budget from the state is based on the number of FTE students attending a community college and, therefore, a reduction is expected during the 2016-2017 fiscal year. This reduction is based on projections, so when the final budget is released, additional cuts may be necessary. The vice presidents of all divisions were asked to make a 10-percent reduction in their budgets. While reductions were made in other areas, personnel loss could not be avoided, as it is approximately 75 percent of the overall budget.

The staffing reductions will not take place until July 1, when contracts are regularly renewed. The reductions include four full-time non-renewals, two part-time non-renewals and four full-time employees whose contract lengths will be reduced.

Additional savings will come from leaving certain vacant positions open.

“This was a hard decision for the college, but the drop in enrollment left us with few options,” said Dr. Barbara Tansey, president of BCCC. “We are a tight-knit family at BCCC, so a staff reduction is not something we take lightly.”

The number of FTE students dropped from 2,029 during the fall 2014 semester to 1,586 during the fall 2015 semester, a 22-percent decrease. That number is not expected to rebound over the next year. The state funds its 58 community colleges based on enrollment. Since community colleges accommodate different kinds of students, enrollment numbers are standardized using a formula called Full-Time Equivalent (FTE). One FTE equates to a full-time student taking 16 credit hours for two semesters.

Enrollment in community colleges tends to increase during economic recessions due to high job losses, high unemployment and wage stagnation. As the economy improves, job seekers are able to find more employment at higher wages. Workers who left the labor force to become full-time students reenter it. Between December 2014 and December 2015, the labor force of Beaufort County expanded by 1,144 workers.

The discontinuation of the Federal Direct Loan Program at BCCC has also contributed to the drop in FTE students. The college withdrew from the program in 2014 after BCCC’s default rate spiked to 29 percent. The college made the tough decision to withdraw from the program rather than risk losing access to other forms of federal financial aid. Other forms of financial aid such as Pell grants and BCCC Foundation scholarships are still available to students.

The college hopes that these are the only budget reductions and contract non-renewals it will have to make. These reductions will help BCCC continue its mission to provide accessible and affordable quality education, effective teaching, relevant training and lifelong learning opportunities to the people of Beaufort, Hyde, Tyrrell and Washington counties.