Lewis-Clark State College is in the process of eliminating more positions as the college works to cut another $5 million out of its budget for the coming fiscal year.

LCSC President Cynthia Pemberton held a virtual meeting Friday detailing what she called “round 2” of budget reductions, which resulted from the coronavirus pandemic.

“We ended (the first round of budget cuts) a week or two before the COVID pandemic with the prospect of a balanced budget for the coming fall,” Pemberton said. “As painful as it was, I’m proud of us. But then COVID happened.”

LCSC experienced about $2 million in lost revenue because of the pandemic after events like the NAIA World Series and Art Under the Elms were canceled.

A 1 percent reduction mandated by Idaho Gov. Brad Little to all state agencies and another 5 percent reduction through state appropriations further complicated the matter. Spring enrollment also declined by about 3 percent compared to this time last year, Pemberton said.

“That leaves us with a shortfall of $5 million-plus looking at next fall on top of what we already did to balance our budget,” Pemberton said. “When you have an overall budget that is over 75 percent personnel and you have to find $5 million, there is no way to get there without affecting people.”

Personnel cuts will add as much as about $1.5 million.

“This round 2 of cuts has had to be so complete in some areas and so severe in some areas that I need the campus community to know,” Pemberton said.

Logan Fowler, LCSC’s director of communications and marketing, said 9.15 full-time-equivalent positions for classified staff and 8.77 full-time-equivalent positions for professional staff have already been eliminated in this second round of cuts. Faculty positions are also on the chopping block, but those decisions have not yet been made.

Pemberton said impacted faculty will likely be informed by the end of the month, prior to the July 15 notification deadline.

The college plans to save another $1 million through its “pause and reflect hiring practice,” which will leave some positions vacant.

Another $900,000 will be cut from the operating budget through efforts like minimizing nonessential travel and about $467,000 will be realized through furloughs.

LCSC will implement a tiered furlough model, which impacts employees in the upper pay scales more than those who make less.

The executive leadership team, which includes Pemberton and LCSC’s two vice presidents, will be furloughed for a combined 7.2 weeks, while cabinet members will take 90 furlough days, equaling about 4.5 months in all.

LCSC will receive approximately $989,000 in federal funding through the coronavirus relief bill, which will help the institution a little.

The college had previously cut $2.5 million from next year’s budget, which resulted in the elimination of 18.48 full-time-equivalent positions earlier this year. The layoffs affected 26 positions and saved $1.3 million.

LCSC had offered its eligible employees a one-time retirement buyout incentive earlier this year that could have saved the institution some money, but that program is no longer an option, according to Pemberton.

“What happened is that COVID came and the stock market plunged,” Pemberton said. “We didn’t have enough people doing it to be able to have it become cost effective for us to proceed.”

LCSC’s general education budget for the current fiscal year is about $36.7 million. Next year’s budget amount has not yet been finalized.

During the meeting, Pemberton said the college is following Little’s four-stage plan for reopening. As of now, fall classes are expected to be held in the traditional face-to-face structure.

She also said the college’s career and technical education center under construction in the Lewiston Orchards recently reached 75 percent completion. The building remains on schedule to open in the fall.

Tomtas may be contacted at jtomtas@lmtribune.com or (208) 848-2294. Follow her on Twitter @jtomtas.

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