Lewis-Clark State College has eliminated positions and reduced its program offerings as work continues to cut an estimated $5 million out of its budget for the coming fiscal year.

The most recent round of cuts eliminated 25 positions and closed several programs.

“Because LC State is already such a lean operation, because our faculty and staff are truly our greatest resources, and because our programs mean so much to so many, the elimination of programs and personnel was an absolute last resort,” LCSC President Cynthia Pemberton said. “We weighed all options and carefully made every decision, but that doesn’t make them any easier.”

The college has discontinued its associate degree program in engineering, its Kids’ College summer program, and its continuing education programs in Grangeville, Orofino and the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley.

The college’s administrative management program, which trained students for jobs like office managers or administrative executives, will close.

Both Outreach Centers in Grangeville and Orofino will also face significant reductions. The centers provide assistance to students for things like financial aid and registration.

“Administrators say this change will reduce the college’s dedicated on-site presence, but that LC State grant-funded Adult Learning Center (GED) services and supports will be maintained, along with efforts to increase remote education services,” stated a news release.

The reductions are a result of “a perfect storm” that included a pre-existing $1 million budget deficit, reductions in state funding, and challenges stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, which affected the college’s enrollment and financial situation.

Logan Fowler, the communications and marketing director for LCSC, said program consolidations, reorganizations and the elimination of positions total around $1.6 million. The college’s “pause and reflect” hiring freeze, which was implemented in September 2019, accounts for another $1 million in savings.

LCSC has also implemented furloughs, a spending freeze and reduced its travel to save money.

“We believe the reductions enacted and spending limitations imposed will allow us to meet the projected fiscal impact,” said Fowler.

In May, Pemberton announced that LCSC is projected to have a $5 million shortfall, because of lost revenue, expenses and uncertainties in enrollment.

The college previously cut $2.5 million from the coming fiscal year’s budget, but the pandemic caused more financial strain for the institution.

“The college’s hiring freeze and preemptive internal budget cuts, which were initiated in September of 2019 and proved to be well timed, helped the institution weather much of the storm, however, challenges in the spring have necessitated further cuts,” stated a news release.

LCSC has reduced its workforce of around 450 people by nearly 60 full-time positions over the course of more than a year. That number includes the 25 positions that were eliminated in the most recent round of cuts.

Students in the associate degree program in engineering and LCSC’s administrative management program will be able to finish the programs before both are formally closed. Prospective students in those areas will be redirected to similar programs.

“Lewis-Clark State College has faced many challenges throughout its history and persevered, and we will continue this legacy,” Pemberton said. “This fall we will embrace a ‘new normal’ inclusive of face-to-face instruction adapted to social distancing and supported through online modalities. Our students will continue to learn, graduate and succeed as they have for the past 127 years — and our partnership with the community will continue to flourish, albeit in some new ways.”

LCSC announced the reductions Monday after informing all of its affected employees.

The college’s general education budget for the current fiscal year, which ends at the end of the month, is about $36.7 million.

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

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