Wytheville Community College announces reorganization plan, resulting in layoffs

Published: Oct. 1, 2019 at 11:38 AM EDT
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After several years of declining numbers,

(WCC) has announced a reorganization plan that includes a reduction in staff.

Sixteen full-time and two part-time employees will be let go. In addition, some positions left vacant will not be filled.

“We sincerely regret this decision,” said Dr. Dean Sprinkle, WCC President. “These individuals have been loyal employees; unfortunately, without increased, sustained enrollment growth, the college budget cannot sustain all of the positions that we have.”

WCC had 108 full-time employees and 115 part-time employees as of July 1. Administrators, teaching faculty, staff and other part-time employees will lose their jobs. The college says grant funded positions will not be affected, and any employees losing their job that may qualify for one of these positions will be notified.

Sprinkle says there are many factors contributing to the budget shortfall and subsequent layoffs, particularly a decrease of more than 900 full-time students since the 2010-2011 school year.

In addition, birth rates are declining and unemployment rates are lower, which factors into the number of people entering college.

“WCC’s state funding is based on a three-year enrollment average,” explained Sprinkle,” so for a few years resources from previous years were available to help cover tuition losses from year to year declining enrollment. Also, whenever possible, we haven’t filled vacant positions. We have reduced departmental budgets. Additionally, we have worked together to increase recruitment and retention efforts. Unfortunately, personnel costs are the largest part of the overall budget, and we have reached a point where we can no longer balance the budget without significant changes.”

WCC is not the only post-secondary school in Virginia seeing declining numbers. There has been a decrease of more than 30,000 full-time equivalent students since 2011-2012, when enrollment was at its peak, according to the Virginia Community College System (VCCS).

But this isn't just confined to Virginia; enrollment numbers have decreased across the nation. In the May 30, 2019 issue, 'Inside Higher Education' reported that enrollment in the United States has decreased for the eighth year in a row.

WCC says most of the teaching faculty that will be affected will be those in courses or programs with low enrollment, or courses where there are multiple faculty members. Additionally, some classes may be taught by part-time faculty under the supervision of a full-time employee. Certain courses with low numbers will be offered through the VCCS Shared Service Distance Learning program, to make it more economical.

“The reorganization plan is designed to maintain the best possible services to our students with the resources that we have,” explained Sprinkle. “Unfortunately, this means the elimination of less viable programs and a greater dependence on shared resources among remaining college departments and with other VCCS colleges.

Remaining employees and employees at the VCCS's Shared service Center will take on the responsibilities of administrators and support staff. The school says some employees will be eligible to retire, while others will receive severance packages.

Changes will take effect December 31, 2019. The college says it will continue to offer its health professions, occupational/technical and transfer programs.

"While the decisions to reorganize the college were not easy, I am confident in the future of Wytheville Community College and our ability to serve our community,” said Sprinkle. “These decisions never come easy, but they are necessary to ensure that the college maintains the ability to continue to accomplish our mission. The college maintains its commitment to serve our local region and to provide the education necessary to enhance the lives of our students. The restructuring will not only allow the college to maintain fiscal responsibility in the short term, but it will also allow for future strategic growth opportunities. As always, our commitment is to our students and the restructuring will allow for continued program growth to meet the demands of our students and our communities.”

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