Pemberton calls for LCSC hiring freeze

Cynthia Pemberton

Lewis-Clark State College President Cynthia Pemberton announced a hiring freeze in the face of a $1.6 million deficit for the Lewiston college.

At a Friday public presentation to department heads, Pemberton said that despite a 5.5 percent tuition increase approved for 2020, the state college is still running a deficit. She said when overall enrollment was set to drop, the budget deficit was predicted at $1.14 million for fiscal year 2020. But going into the new financial year, the college will be running a deficit $500,000 more than predicted.

Pemberton didn’t say any positions will be cut, but that any hiring considerations will be “on pause.” Additionally, any unfilled positions will be left vacant.

She said she will ask the Idaho State Board of Education to approve another tuition hike during the next session, but that each department should prepare for as much as 7 percent reductions. That is a worst-case scenario as Pemberton said that, with the hiring freeze, and if the budget stays flat, there won’t be any cause for cuts.

“There’s lots of what-ifs — what if it’s a 2 percent (cut), what if it’s 5 percent, what if it’s 7 percent?” Pemberton said. “I want to hear what your priorities are. ... I will do everything in my power to make sure (those cuts) don’t happen.”

She said even though new student numbers are up and student housing is at capacity, LCSC still runs a deficit. She asked the department heads to control spending and prepare for a hiring freeze.

“If we do these things, we will be OK,” Pemberton said. “Our ship is not sinking; we are not the Titanic.”

Holm may be contacted at (208) 848-2275 or tholm@lmtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter @TomHolm4.

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