Pink slips went out to 14 staffers with Jackson Community College Tuesday. It's one of several measures JCC is taking to recoup money lost from declining enrollment.
The Board of Trustees made $3.7 million in cuts last night. Administrators say the layoff were a last resort, but others are questioning the college's priorities.
"We don't take this lightly we feel very, very badly but we're doing everything we can to meet with those employees, go over their options," JCC spokesperson Cindy Allen said.
JCC is now seven full time and seven part time support positions smaller. Eliminated jobs included cleaning and facilties workers, information and technologies professionals and student service center help.
Administrators say it's all due to enrollment. Numbers are down 11 percent, leaving JCC to trim nearly $4 million from about a $42 million total budget.
"It is significant and when you're working in a place where you're a service industry and the bulk of your rexpenses are personnel it makes it really difficult," Allen explained.
The college left positions unfilled, consolidated others and will close its downtown Jackson Center, put the brakes on construction at its north campus and reduce library and print shop hours. Still, it says layoffs couldn't be avoided.
The union representing the 14 workers sees it differently.
"I think that their priorities are a little bit skewed or have been and now we're paying the price for it," Faculty Association President Alana Tuckey said.
Tuckey agrees the administration is trying to right the ship, but feels the college spends to much on buildings and is top heavy. Despite the budget woes, it plans to fill three currently-vacant administrative jobs in January.
"When you're redecorating buildings, when you are adding staffing at the administrative level that is certainly cutting down on your workforce," Kim Seaburg, with the Essential Services Personnel union said.
Seaburg says staffers were never asked about a wage freeze, but are open to the idea. They and administrators don't want to see students impacted.
"They're worried about not being able to have students go to the library, not being able to have students go to the testing center, not being able to have students go to the student services center and get adequate help for their advising," Tuckey said of educator concerns.
According to Seaburg, several administrators approached college President Dan Phelan asking to forgo raises in the hopes some of the 14 positions could be saved. She says they were told to take their raises, but informed they could donate that money to an employee benevolence fund, set up through the Jackson Community College Foundation, to help those staffers.
"We care about each other here, we're a family and this is tough," Jason Valente, Jackson Community College Foundation President said of the layoffs. "We tried everything we could to avoid it."
Faculty and administration couldn't be considered for layoffs because of current contracts. Those contracts expire in June.