Special Update – March 2, 2010

on March 2, 2010 in Weekly Update

Good morning,

In my weekly update, I mentioned that I would be sending you an email this morning regarding some actions taken by our Board of Trustees last night. I wish it could be good news but unfortunately, it is not.

Over the last several years, as employees in the housekeeping area have left the college, we have been replacing them with contracted employees as part of a business operations decision. Currently, we are contracting about two-thirds of the housekeeping employees through two different vendors. Through the action taken last night, the housekeeping department will be reorganized allowing the college to move to one vendor, Service Solutions, to streamline the operations of housekeeping services across all college facilities providing consistent service levels and housekeeping standards across all college facilities. In total, there are 37 San Jacinto College employees who will be affected by this action. The affected employees will receive six months of separation pay from the college, be eligible to apply for employment with Service Solutions, and be entitled to assistance from the College’s career and employment placement services. The effect of this decision will occur on May 14th.

This has been a very difficult decision and one I do not take lightly.  We have looked at our business processes and our core services, which is teaching students, and determined that this is the right decision, similar to the decision we made several years ago to outsource our bookstore function to Barnes and Noble. It was also important to ensure that we assist our employees through this transition.

Last night the Board also approved a recommendation to increase tuition $5 per semester credit hour for all resident statuses and to increase the general service fee by $5.  These actions will be effective with the Fall 2010 semester.  It is never our desire to raise tuition and fees because we know the difficult circumstances of many of our students.

This was another very difficult decision but one I feel needed to be made.  It was brought forward due to the five percent reduction in State revenue we were asked to plan for by the Governor.  The five percent reduction over the current biennium would equal a $3.8 million reduction ($1.9 million in each of the two fiscal years 2009-2010 and 2010-2011). In addition, we are receiving predictions from the Texas Association of Community Colleges that we may be facing an additional 10 percent reduction in State funding of contact hours over the next biennium (2011-2012 and 2012-2013).  With the proposed tuition and fee increases and with projections of enrollment growth, we believe the approximate revenue generated would be around $3.5 million. This projection would bring us close to breaking even if all the scenarios play out as expected and will be included in our annual budget process to address instructional staffing due to enrollment growth, prioritized needs, and annual goals established during the strategic planning process. Again, I do not take this decision lightly.  We are faced with the dilemma of decreased funding and increased enrollment and we must address the issues.

I know this is not a great way to start your day….but one of my goals starting as your Chancellor was to create a culture of openness and transparency. I also want you to very clear that although I have mentioned these two actions in the same email…they are not related in any way, shape or form.  The first item is not a result of the request by the Governor to submit a plan for a budget reduction.  This has been in the works for several years and we are at the point where a decision needed to be made.  I will continue to work with the strategic leadership team to ensure that we are budgeting in a way that even though we are facing reductions, we can continue the normal operations of this great institution.  So, don’t panic, we will get through all this.

Thank you for all you do to make this a great institution.  I want to leave you with a good note so I need to mention that there were three students at the Board meeting last night who talked about the impact of the retention calling program that has grown out of our Achieving the Dream efforts. Each student talked about the difference we have made in their lives by caring about student success.  We are making an impact.  Let’s keep sight of our goals and students whose lives we change every day by all the little things each one of us do to help them succeed.

Best,

BH

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