GCC pares down staff to save money

Glendale Community College will operate about 80 employees short in the coming academic year, the result of a partial hiring freeze and an early retirement incentive designed to minimize personnel expenses amid state budget cuts, officials said.

“I have to tell you, I am sitting here and I am speechless as to the work the remaining faculty and staff are doing,” Armine Hacopian, vice president of the college’s board of trustees, said at the board meeting Monday. “I want to applaud all those who are here and doing an outstanding job.”

About 60 staff positions were vacated via a partial hiring freeze for a savings of $2.2 million, said Ron Nakasone, vice president of administrative services.

Thirty-two employees elected to take part in the early retirement incentive — an annuity based on 55% of annual salary — which will help further reduce the payroll because it was initiated early this year, saving $1.6 million, he added.

Officials are planning to offer a second window for the incentive later this year, which will likely add to the retirement roll.

Those who took the retirement incentive included 13 faculty members, 12 managers and administrators and seven classified staff members, Nakasone said. At least 10 positions will be refilled to meet minimum staffing requirements, he said.

Still, the number of vacancies concerned some.

“We have to start looking at when are we not functioning, when are students having to wait much too long for services,” said college trustee Vahe Peroomian. “Eighty to 100 vacancies is quite a lot.”

Glendale Community College officials have already cut expenditures by $7.1 million in anticipation of the start of the new fiscal year on July 1. In addition to the staff reductions, the savings came in the form of a scaled-back 2011 summer session, the elimination of the 2012 winter session and a 5% pay reduction for management staff.

But Nakasone said roughly $2.1 million in cuts still must be made, which would bring the 2011-12 operating budget down to $83.5 million. Options include tapping unused funds saved up by the college’s employee bargaining units, taking the reserve down to 5% and changing health insurance premiums and deductibles, he said.

Several variables could still change the college’s budget outlook, Nakasone said, including the possibility of a state tax extension.

“My guess is we are probably looking at two more years that we are going to be in this situation before we start seeing some additional revenues,” Nakasone said. “Hopefully by then, the economy will have recovered.”

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