Friday Letter, 4-1-16

Hello all. It seems a while since we’ve been in touch.  I think the postal service may not be forwarding my letters.  =)

During spring break (last week) I was in Olympia on Thursday and Friday. Honestly, I got so wrapped up in the discussions there that I forgot to write the Friday Letter.  And the first week of the quarter is usually quiet for the President’s Office as everyone else attends to students, so I took a bit of vacation time this week, Monday through Thursday.  So it seems like a while since I’ve seen everyone.  I hope your week went well.

I had thought about some kind of practical joke for today’s letter since it’s April Fool’s Day, but I decided against it. Wiki says that this practice is actually a worldwide custom.  It’s interesting how my work at Cascadia has caused me to look into the origins of the things I say and do.  THAT’s a good practice.

I wanted to report on last week’s trip to Olympia. I sent the eteam this email while I was there:

It’s a mess here. Some Presidents tried to stop the allocation model (didn’t work). Some campuses are REALLY hurting because of the 1/2 punch with ctcLink and the Moore v HCA settlement.  Enrollment is down at most colleges.

We are very fortunate. We (and probably Bellevue) are the most stable colleges in the system.

Instead of the usual Friday business meeting lasting 4 hours, we were there 7 hours. The topics varied, but as referenced in the above email, we talked about the new allocation model of legislative funding.  Many colleges will receive less funding starting in July because the new model tries to allocate funds more equitably.  Cascadia actually does pretty well in this model because we have been serving more domestic students than our state target.  Presidents of schools receiving less tried to halt the model so it could have closer scrutiny.  In my mind, 3 years of scrutiny is enough.  Anyway…it will be in play come July.

There was also a class action suit against the state of Washington (Moore vs. HCA) which states the Health Care Authority did not pay enough of their share of health care costs for part-time staff. The state lost the suit.  The community colleges hire the second most number of part-time employees (next to UW).  The legislature decided to only cover a portion of the cost (they really should have covered it all) and so the community college system must pay $13M.  We will have to cover some of that cost ourselves.

AND, ctcLink (which you should all know about) is the new software system for the community colleges. It is WAY over budget, taking longer to implement, and the local costs to colleges in the pilot programs have been enormous.  The Cascadia Trustees just authorized $900,000 over two years to cover our costs.

When you add all of this up, many college are getting hit hard. By my estimate, the Seattle Colleges and the Spokane Colleges will each take a $5M hit based on these three factors.  And with declining enrollment at those schools, they are scrambling.  Hence, the “mess” and the long discussions about how to deal with it.

Our willingness to serve more students than our allocation, our well-managed International Programs, our conservative spending, and the money we save from staffing turn-overs are the reasons why we are so stable right now. I credit every single employee at Cascadia for that stability.  I cannot emphasize enough how it takes the entire team to help us deal with more students, more staffing turn-over, our international students, and our willingness to live on a tight budget.  Your willingness to participate in budget council, to use interest-based bargaining, to participate in Cavolines and DIAs, and to understand when we cannot afford something are all crucial to our success.

Thank you for making my job easier than the Presidents at other schools. We will weather this storm well by staying united, but I’m sure there will be much turmoil across the state.  And that’s no joke.

Have a great weekend.

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