By AMY HORD, Terra State
FREMONT – Terra State Community College is taking measured steps to phase back staff union employees to full-time status. Due to State of Ohio and local budget shortcomings resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, 24 staff union employees and three non-union staff employees were reduced to 32 hours per week and 36 staff employees had salary reductions.
The Ohio Department of Higher Education has signaled FY21 cuts to public colleges’ State Share of Instruction will not be as deep as originally predicted. The State originally estimated a 20 percent cut, which has been improved to approximately 4.8 percent. However, the State is carefully monitoring COVID-19 developments and revenue during the economic recovery and has cautioned colleges that budget adjustments will be made as needed over the coming months.
“I would like to thank Gov. Mike DeWine and Chancellor Randy Gardner for their continued support of community colleges and the students and businesses served by the college,” said Terra State President Ron Schumacher.
Despite positive revenue indications from the State of Ohio, Terra State’s fall semester enrollment is lagging 27 percent compared to this time last year due to the pandemic. The college budget is based on an anticipated 20 percent gap. Enrollment is the largest source of revenue.
Terra State administrators will be meeting with department supervisors in the coming days to determine a deliberate plan to restore work that best serves the needs of students.
“We are emphasizing making gains in enrollment. I am thankful for the dedication of the OAPSE/AFSCME members and the collaboration of its leadership throughout this challenging budget period. The budget decisions that impacted employees have been incredibly difficult, and we are cautiously optimistic moving forward,” said Schumacher.
Some employees will be restored as early as Wednesday, July 15, with a tentative goal of restoring more employees by the start of fall semester classes.
OAPSE/AFSCME local president Kim Maxwell looks forward to having members resume their full work schedules.
“I appreciate working with the college leadership throughout this crisis and putting together a solution that benefits our members and the students,” said Maxwell.
The move to increase hours for union staff members is the first in a series to restore staff members impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and will be reviewed as enrollment and revenue stabilize. Terra State plans on reopening for fall semester with in-person classes on Monday, Aug. 17. Additional cleaning, health screening and social distancing protocols have been enacted.