By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne is going through a major reorganization and reduction process, eliminating more than 30 positions and eyeing certain programs for changes.
Thirty-three positions will be eliminated by the end of the year at the community college, 9% of its 383-person workforce, LCCC president Dr. Joe Schaffer told Cowboy State Daily. Seventeen of those positions are currently filled.
This comes just four years after the college eliminated 16 positions, again to deal with budget shortfalls.
“I just can’t predict whether or not there will be a rebound in the coal, oil or gas industries, so we have to approach this situation as if it’s permanent and long-term,” Schaffer said.
Schaffer presented a list of recommendations regarding multiple position cuts and structural reorganizations to programs at the college to LCCC’s board of trustees earlier this week.
The president and a number of other LCCC officials have been working on these recommendations since July, as the college is facing a 10% cut from its state appropriations. LCCC needed to make about $3.5 million in cuts, although officials are expecting the college will see a $4.1 million deficit.
In addition to cutting 33 positions, Schaffer recommended other cuts such as closing the LCCC outreach facility in Pine Bluffs, reducing all departments’ operating budgets, reducing athletics expenditures and eliminating short and long-term disability benefits, among others.
Schaffer said that while the coronavirus had an impact to the college’s budget, the cuts were something that had been coming for a while, due to enrollment being down and the community college receiving fewer appropriated funds from Laramie County and the Wyoming Legislature.
The college receives funding from three sources: Laramie County, the Legislature and tuition. Schaffer said he believes tuition rates have already been increasing far too frequently, causing him to worry that community colleges in Wyoming could soon become unaffordable.
“These are painful processes and while I realize them because of a financial corner we’ve been backed into, I hope it becomes a wakeup call, albeit a painful one,” Schaffer said. “This will allow everyone to think about what kind of future we want and look at proactive changes that can be made.”