Jeff Massengill isn’t willing to just give up and let two of his faculty head quietly out the door — both victims of declining enrollment and decreased funding.
During Monday night’s Coastal Bend College board meeting, Massengill, communications department division chair, pleaded with trustees to reinstate the two lost positions offering himself as a financial sacrifice.
“We had made arrangements that would address the low enrollment numbers,” he told the trustees during the public forum portion of the meeting. “I am willing to step down and teach as an adjunct. That will save you guys about $40,000.
“Please do consider this.
“I cannot think of anything more tragic than losing these people who are already trained and broken in.”
The two positions, one on the college’s Alice campus and the other in Pleasanton, were casualties of a declining college enrollment and reduced state funding.
Two weeks ago, trustees announced this loss of 12 people.
Board Chair Paul Jaure said that they have been looking at ways to cut costs and increase enrollment for the past year.
They were able to cut $160,000 from the budget, reduce overtime by $85,000, save $130,000 by restructuring the technology and communications infrastructure, reorganize the administration side to save $250,000, eliminate some contract renewals to save $575,000 and change property and liability insurance providers to save $140,0000.
Despite their efforts, funding cuts including a $1.4 million deficit, have taken their toll.
Lure of the oil field
The overall decline in enrollment is being attributed to the prosperity brought to this area from Eagle Ford Shale drilling. Those who would normally be enrolling are taking what some describe as lucrative jobs in the oil field.
None of the changes have come easily.
“We all have emotions,” Jaure said. “It hurts to have to do those things.
“We are a family.”
During Monday’s meeting, the board issued orders to College President Dr. Beatriz Espinoza not only to ensure the college offers the courses students need but to also re-establish the college’s fund balance.
Jaure read the list after the board returned from a 2 1/2-hour executive session which included the president’s evaluation. It should be noted that Espinoza’s evaluation did not include a raise because of the financial situation.
Goals of president
Her goals, as read by Jaure during the meeting include:
• Ensuring that student success is a top priority and that every student will be able to complete a certificate or degree on time.
• Ensuring that staffing is in line with current enrollment.
• Re-establishing the fund balance of $5.4 million amount required by the state. This will require the contribution of $1.5 million per fiscal year into the reserves through 2015.
• Continually evaluating programs and positions to meet the needs and demands of the college’s service areas.
• Investing in support programs and evaluating programs that are declining — always keeping in mind that student and community/industry needs.
• Researching new programs and initiatives that will help serve the needs of the area.
Jaure said that they want to see the college continue and they are doing what needs to be done to ensure that.
“We are close to celebrating our 50th anniversary,” he said.
“CBC has much to be proud of. We cannot let a brief lapse in oversight keep us from celebrating the many successes CBC has enjoyed and will continue to enjoy for many years.
“Bee County College/ Coastal Bend College has awarded more than 15,000 certificates and degrees to very deserving students — many of whom are leaders in our community and throughout the globe...”
Holding out hope
Massengill holds out hope that trustees will re-evaluate their cuts and reconsider how these layoffs were handled.
The positions cut had a lower number of contact hours with students this semester but that would have changed next semester when one took on more online classes and the other expanded the dual credit program in Alice.
The Pleasanton instructor, he said, was developing her own online courses that would take some of the load off a local instructor with 736 contact hours.
“She is an award-wining author and far better than I am as an instructor.”
The second instructor, this one working on the Alice campus, had already been reassigned to expand the Kingsville dual credit program.
“We had already reassigned him to two days a week to meet unmet student needs in Kingville where we turn away dual credit students every semester,” Massengill said. “Until this first semester, I had no one to send over there.
“This instructor agreed to drive over there on his own nickle.”
Massengill continued his plea, offering his position in exchange.
“These people are too valuable for us to just lose,” he said. “These people are an integral part of a team that we have all worked very hard to put together.
“The damage this has done to the division is disheartening, especially since it was sprung on us at the last minute — literally 48 hours before I came to you and spoke to you last time.
“I agree we have to run this place partially as a business.
“I run a business.
“I have run several in the past.
“I would never do what has happened to my division to an employee whether they mowed the lawn or dug ditches or ran the place.”
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.