‘It’s very painful, it’s very difficult’: SCC & SFCC to furlough staff, cut $11 million from budget

SPOKANE, Wash. — More budget cuts are coming. This time, to the Community Colleges of Spokane. It’s bracing itself for one of its biggest cuts in its history.

The Washington State Office of Financial Management is asking the school to prepare for a 15% reduction in state budget allocation. That’s almost an $11 million dollars hit.

While the school hasn’t laid off any people, it has announced this week, every staff member must take a 40-hour furlough during the next year to help make up for the shortfall.

“It’s very painful, it’s very difficult. Our employees don’t deserve that because they are very excellent at what they do,” said Christine Johnson, chancellor at Community Colleges of Spokane. “The hardest work that I’ve ever done in higher education in a very long career.”

4 News Now spoke with a Spokane Community College student, Russell Price, who said it’s unfortunate to hear the news, but he understands.

“It’s the same thing that’s happening in the business world. Same thing that is happening with service jobs and things like that. It’s going to be a strange time for everyone. I think we will all just have to adapt and overcome with whatever the new normal is when we get back to it,” Price said.

CCS isn’t alone in cutting back.

Eastern Washington University announced earlier this month, it’s short $12 million dollars. Now, almost 400 jobs at the school are affected. Some will see a shorter term, and others will be laid off.

READ: Close to 400 positions impacted by budget cuts at EWU

Despite so much uncertainty, the CCS chancellor said the value in higher education and community colleges will continue to hold strong.

“Without us, we will not have the recovery and we will not close the kind of equity gaps that we have in our country,” Johnson said.

Thursday was the last day of spring quarter at SCC. Schools are already used to having smaller enrollment sizes during the summer.
But whether or not students enroll in the fall, will play another big role in what happens next.

CCS understands some will choose not to come back. It’s projecting enrollment for this fall to be 30% below average.

Though, there are students who are making it work during uncertain times and ready to graduate.

“For everyone, especially in the technical trades, where there are jobs waiting for us at the end of this even before graduation, we’ll be here and we’ll be finishing strong,” Price said.

Starting in July, all staff at CCS will have a 1.9% deduction on their paycheck. That deduction will be on every paycheck for the next year.

As for the 40-hour furlough, CCS is letting staff work with their supervisor to choose when they take that unpaid time off.

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