Ivy Tech Plans for Staff Cuts

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December 13, 2013 — The state’s largest public post-secondary education system is considering cuts for its teaching staff.

Ivy Tech Community College’s top regional leader says shedding staff might be a fiscally responsible step.

The community college, known for its signs of green, is trying to save just that by asking some educators to take early retirement.

“I think that’s bad for anybody to lose their job,” student Michelle Winiecki says, “especially in this economy, and many of the teachers here also teach at other colleges, and they work here part-time.  So, that will be an even bigger blow because they don’t have a full-time job in the first place.”

Ivy Tech sent out about 700 emails statewide to tell employees they are eligible for early retirement based on their age plus years of service.

Chancellor for Ivy Tech’s northwest region, Dr. Thomas Coley, confirms the system’s board of trustees met Friday in Indianapolis to consider the cuts.

Ivy Tech’s website says the average class size is 22 students.  Winiecki worries that number could rise if faculty numbers go down.

“it will lead to bigger class sizes, which is not good because I went to Purdue (University) before and sometimes you’d have 100 or 300 people in a lecture hall,” she says.  “The teacher doesn’t know who you are and you don’t get the individual attention that you need.”

In its early retirement email sent out to employees, Ivy Tech says it’s going to have to defer nearly $80-million in spending and not hire additional full-time faculty. They say it all comes down to a lack in state funding.

Ivy Tech touts itself as the nation’s largest statewide community college system and says more state funding would let it retain educators.

“This week, we received notice from the governor that higher education will have to give back two percent of its budget,” Dr.Coley says.  “That’s a major budget constraint, and we have decreasing funding for our education, so we have to internally keep looking for ways to reduce costs while maintaining the quality of service.”

The institution’s website reports state and local governments allocated more than $13-million in support of Ivy Tech Northwest between 2010 and 2011.

Chancellor Coley says the staff buyout move is a chance to both honor long years of service for staff and ease budget concern, which is an ongoing battle.

Chancellor Coley says local Ivy Tech employees have until December 20 to decide if they’ll take the buyout option.

By Hilary Powell

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