CWC Board approves first reading of budget, including the contested elimination of Sinks Canyon Center coordinator position

(Riverton, Wyo.) – The Central Wyoming College Board of Trustees approved the first reading of its proposed 2015 budget yesterday evening, including the contested elimination of a Sinks Canyon Center assistant coordinator position. The final reading will be in July.

The FY15 budget includes two reduction in force position eliminations, and much discussion has been had over the SCC position. Frank Berch, who holds the job, has spoken to the board on a couple occasions asking them to think for themselves and not follow-through with the president’s recommendations. During last night’s meeting he noted that he knew a number of community members had been reaching out to the board to ask them to save the position. He believes the elimination of his position will cause a reduction in use of the SCC, as well as logistical issues for the college.

“Since the last time I stood before you I am aware that Lynn McAuliffe and Ken Colovich have had continued and extensive meetings with Jason Wood to present arguments and justifications to retain my position… my deepest appreciation goes out to them for their efforts,” he said in a statement. “Regrettably, they have not been able to sway the Administration from their course.”

“The ‘de-centralizing’ of the position and then the attempt to ‘centralize’ certain duties back to Main Campus Departments is an ineffective management model showing a lack of understanding on the Administration’s part with regard to the fall-out of their recommendations,” he added.

Berch also cited what he considered to be leading statements by the administration to the board, that tell the board they “should” adopt the budget because it is “expected” of them. “I encourage you to think for yourself, and don’t allow yourself to be boxed in to having to adopt the budget as a ‘whole.’ There are parts of this budget that are not soundly thought through, and the consequences are serious to the future of the SCC and CWC’s image within the Lander community,” he said.

Following his statements, President Jo Anne McFarland presented a packet of information about the decision to eliminate the position. She noted that most of Berch’s position is funded through auxilliary funds, or operations that bring in their own revenue outside of for-credit courses. She said the SCC auxilliary has lost $317,534 over the last three years. She said the decision to eliminate the position had nothing to do with Berch’s performance and everything to do with budgetary issues.

Trustees Nicole Schoening and Colton Crane both expressed their sympathies to Berch, but because the board operates under policy governance they were required to accept the administration’s recommendations because it met the requirements the board sets forward in policy. The budget was approved unanimously.

This year’s total proposed budget is $36.8 million, a reduction of nearly $5.2 million. The reduction in expenditures is primarily due to the significant reduction in new construction the coming year over this year. The operating fund itself is actually increasing by $2.4 million to total $22.4 million. Thirty-eight percent of the operating budget, the largest line item, goes to instruction.

The one other reduction in force is to a consolidation of grant funded operations directors from two to one.

Overall, CWC employees will receive a 2 percent raise to the base salaries. Executive Vice President for Student and Academic Services Jason Wood’s and Vice President for Administrative Services Ron Granger’s contracts were extended through June 2016. Wood’s salary is $133,891 and Granger’s is $120,000.