Students and parents are readying themselves for getting back to school this fall. Sadly, that is not the case for some staff and faculty members at NHTI – four professors, a program director, and a facilities engineer. They received pink slips instead. This was prompted by budget cuts and revenue deficits caused by seemingly poor planning at the top and declining enrollment.
This is not unique to the Concord school – there have been budget cuts made across the CCSNH system. While workers recognize the need for conservative budgeting, they question and protest the top-heaviness of the system. Last year, the CCSNH administration voted themselves substantial raises (ranging from 25 percent to 60 percent). There is no hiring freeze for the Systems Office. Yet, professors and administrative and support staff are being laid off.
Wendy Parent, President of SEA/SEIU Local 1984 Chapter 28 (Lakes Region Community College), said “Our president is handling the budget cuts a little differently. He did not renew a probationary employee’s contract; is cutting teaching loads; trying to re-direct some faculty to openings at other schools in the system and one worker is going on sabbatical at a decreased salary.”
“There is no question this will impact the students,” said Neil Nevins, a professor at NHTI and SEA/SEIU Local 1984 member. “There are fiscal challenges, but the limited funds are being spent to support administrative positions and activity and not towards academic programs. In fact, academic programs and services are being cut and this diminishes the ability of the college to meet its mission. Decisions about present and future status are being made with no input from faculty and students in the process.”
He and other NHTI workers question how the system’s chancellor and presidents could in good conscience give themselves significant raises then only months later, lay off staff.
“I was just reading an article about a state college in Kentucky that was also going through some financial difficulties, Nevins said. “Their president took a $90,000-a-year pay decrease to continue to bring the school’s students the quality of education for which they were paying. Now, there is an example of moral courage.”
“I am really disappointed the administration has blamed our collectively bargained raises as the reason for their money problems,” Parent said. “I was on the negotiating team and they sat at that table and negotiated the terms. They should have begun planning how they were going to pay for the raises then.” There have been a number of news articles in N.H. papers in which school administrators have been quoted as saying if it were not for the raises that were negotiated, the financial outlook would be fine.
What attracted Nevins to leave a teaching position at a four-year college years ago was the opportunity to work with adults who were going back to school; enrolling to acquire the skills and knowledge to enter or improve career paths. He said it is very different now. Today, in addition to the students who are returning to school later in life, more and more students fresh from graduating high school are enrolling.
High school grads are increasingly turning to the more economical community colleges to earn general credits they need to graduate from a four-year school. After earning the “gen-ed’s” these students apply to four-year schools to take the courses in their chosen major.
If you or your young adult child would like to look into the many quality programs offered at the CCSNH campuses across the state, visit their website at www.ccsnh.edu or visit a campus near you.
The system’s colleges are Great Bay Community College in Portsmouth and Rochester; Lakes Region Community College in Laconia; Manchester Community College; Nashua Community College; NHTI – Concord’s Community College; River Valley Community College in Claremont and Keene; and White Mountains Community College in Berlin and Littleton. Each college is accredited through the New England Association of Schools and Colleges-Commission on Institutions of Higher Education.