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CGCC lays off five workers

Columbia Gorge Community College has laid off five employees across multiple departments in an initial schedule of layoffs designed to help address a projected $2.4 million deficit in the upcoming fiscal year, according to college president Dr. Frank Toda.

The layoffs will extend through June.

Full time faculty staff have not been reduced: Their bargaining agreement with the college requires a 10-month notice, and no notice has been issued, according to budget information provided by the college.

The layoffs are part of a strategy in effect for several months that also include a voluntary employee resignation incentive program and holding open vacancies as part of a “hiring freeze.”

The combined savings of the three approaches is estimated at just under $1 million for the 2015-16 fiscal year.

“The college will align operations to existing resources, while continuing to provide the high-quality educational services the community has come to expect,” Toda said.

He noted that community college enrollment is down across Oregon due to improvements in the state’s economy.

“The Columbia Gorge has not been immune from this common trend,” he said. “Community colleges indisputably foster economic growth. In doing so, we are now, to some degree, victims of our own success.”

Statewide enrollment is down approximately 20 percent from the height of the “Great Recession.”

Revenue forecasts for the coming year anticipate flat tuition, level enrollment, a “less than adequate” increase to $535 million for the state-wide Community College Support Fund and a slight increase in property tax receipts, Toda said.

The college is working on next year’s budget, which will be considered first by the Columbia Gorge Community College Board of Education budget committee and then by the board itself. Positions are currently open on the budget committee, and the board is seeking applicants from Wasco and Hood River counties: Interested people can send a letter of interest with qualifications and contact information to Tiffany Prince, assistant to the president and CGCC board, at 400 East Scenic Dr., The Dalles, OR 97058. Deadline for consideration is March 13. Oregon law requires the college adopt a balanced budget, and a variety of cost-cutting scenarios will be considered during the upcoming budget process.

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