CWC focuses on student success amidst state budget cuts

The following is a statement from Central Wyoming College on the budget cuts it is currently facing:
Following an announcement by Governor Matt Mead of an impending additional 8 percent cut for state agencies for the upcoming fiscal year, CWC will again review strategies for reductions in fiscal year 2017. This cut will result in a 7.92 percent decrease or an additional $632,200 reduction from the fiscal year 2017 (2016-17).
Understanding its current budget situation CWC began budget conversations in November of 2015. In March, leadership of the college worked to prepare a budget for the upcoming biennium that incorporated reductions from the state legislature. The impact on CWC was a 5 percent reduction over four years, declining state revenues and reduced local valuations that resulted in approximately a $1.9 million annual reduction, and now the college is looking at another $1.1 million reduction in response to Governor Mead’s request.
Members of CWC’s cabinet have looked closely at the colleges’ budgets and are working to find reductions that would not be detrimental to their focus on student success. President Cristobal Valdez stated that the following principles guided the Cabinet’s processes; cannot deficit spend, the number one priority is to grow enrollments and increase success/completion rates, gain efficiencies in all areas, leverage technology, and invest in instructional services. All decisions were driven by data.
“As the College faced this daunting task we employed the following strategies; 1.Look for revenue and growth opportunities, 2. Explore cost saving solutions, 3. Determine reallocation strategies and 4. Focus on balancing the budget but also positioning the college for the future,” said Valdez.
Following input from the three staff associations, Cabinet identified several operational areas in which reduced or restricted budgets could benefit the college including travel, purchasing (increased focus on centralized purchasing), general operations and institutional scholarships. The goal is to have all departments operating as efficiently and effectively as possible. Though furloughs and voluntary buyout options were explored, the Cabinet ultimately made the decision not to utilize these strategies. “Though we didn’t adopt every suggestion we received from employees, every strategy that we employed, whether it was revenue generating or reducing travel and operations or looking for efficiencies in all departments, was suggested by the employee Budget Task Force that was assembled in the fall. We realize that the outcomes may have been different than some expected, but the emphasis and processes closely aligned with what the Task Force and employee associations suggested we do,” said Valdez.
Though reduction in operating costs will impact the bottom line, personnel costs, which are over 75% of college expenses, will be reduced as well. Special and Early Retirement incentives, absorbing and reallocating work responsibilities for vacant positions, and close examination and review of staffing models for each department were all strategies utilized by the Cabinet to determine areas of staff reduction.
“Given the enormity of the reductions to revenue, it would have been impossible to make these budgetary adjustments exclusively through operations. However, we believe the planning and input by employees allowed us to mitigate the impact on personnel, continue to serve students into the future and protect the long-term sustainability of the College as no programs were eliminated as a result of these decisions,” said Valdez.
The challenge to this latest announcement was the brief time frame in which the reductions needed to be implemented. In the presentation of the 2017 fiscal year budget to Board of Trustees Wednesday evening, May 4, Ron Granger, vice president of administrative services, indicated that there still may be more reductions for some state agencies.