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Thanks to unexpected funding and savings, no layoffs or program reductions or eliminations this year

Clackamas Community College was looking to cut or reduce programs to save $1.3 million in the next fiscal year, but thanks to unexpected funding and savings, all programs are safe for now.

"I'm writing to you with good news," CCC President Tim Cook said in an all-staff email Wednesday, March 31. "Thanks to federal stimulus funding, recent news about anticipated state funding, current year operational savings and the judicious work of everyone at CCC, we expect to close our budget gap for the next biennium without any significant budget cuts.

"This means there will be no layoffs, or academic program reductions or eliminations in this year's budget process."

PMG FILE PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Tim Cook, the community colleges president, addresses the crowd at the Jan. 31, 2020, grand opening celebration of the Barlow Hall expansion.

Cook explained in the email that the funds to close the gap came from one-time circumstances and ongoing funding.

One of the one-time circumstances is unexpected federal stimulus dollars. On March 19, the U.S. Department of Education amended the stimulus language to allow the college to backdate revenue losses due to COVID-19 to March 2020. Cook said the college estimates this will recover about $3.2 million in lost tuition.

The other one-time event is that the college saved more money than anticipated through holding vacant positions, food and travel budgets, printing and utility savings.

As for ongoing funding, the state Legislature's Ways and Means Committee announced its intent to use the state's stimulus funds to bridge its budget gaps, which includes keeping community colleges at their current service levels. The college expects this to raise state funding from $641 million for all 17 community colleges to $673 million.

The college is still advocating for $703 million for community colleges, which is what Cook said the college needs to meet the educational needs of students and the community. This number won't be made known until the end of the current legislative session, which is typically the end of June.

The other ongoing funding will come from a $4 per-credit tuition increase approved by the college's board of education.

But Clackamas Community College is not ditching its reduction process altogether. Cook said the process will now have new intent, which is to address the college's "structural deficit." He said the unexpected funding and savings simply provides more time to complete the work.

He warned that the leadership cabinet has identified $1.4 million in proposed budget cuts if state funding is less than expected.

"I hope this news brings some relief to all of us," Cook said. "This year has been traumatic and stressful for our college community. I am optimistic about our future, our recovery and the rebuilding of our community."

Kristen Wohlers
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