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First Pangs of Budget Holdbacks Felt at LCSC
LEWISTON: As debate and planning for the state funding shortfall continues, Lewis-Clark
State College officials and faculty will feel the first pains of shrinking budgets.
On Thursday and Friday this week, Lewis-Clark State Officials will be meeting personally
with first- and second-year faculty slated to receive notice that their positions may be
eliminated. The consultations mark the first potential casualties in a scenario that has
higher education budgets in the state facing possible double-digit reductions.
Lewis-Clark State, like other Idaho colleges and universities, is struggling with the need
to slash budgets at a time when student enrollment is up. Idaho Governor Dirk Kempthorne
earlier ordered $55 million cut from the state's 2001-2002 budget. On Tuesday of this
week, citing a November tax collection shortfall of more than $7 million, he told state
agencies to expect even tighter budgets for fiscal year 2002-2003.
In September and November, state agencies were notified of 3% budget holdbacks for the
remainder of 2001. Public schools (K-12) were directed to trim 2.5 % from their budgets.
An official holdback amount for fiscal year 2002-2003 has not been determined. The
governor has said he will exempt K-12 schools from additional holdbacks in 2002-2003.
Lewis-Clark State officials hoped to cushion the blow with retirements and unfilled
positions; however, as predictions for state revenues remained bleak, the prospect of
personnel reductions was unavoidable. College leaders turned to their ongoing strategic
planning efforts, looking for ways to apply the process to the emerging budget and
organizational concerns. All programs were asked to submit assessments and plans for
reduced operating capacities-including losses of staff and faculty.
The college is required to send letters to second-year faculty, notifying them of possible
termination, by December 15th of this year. By law, first-year faculty do not need to be
notified until March 15th of 2002. However, Lewis-Clark State President Dene Thomas
decided to let all potential recipients know as soon as possible that their positions were
being considered for elimination. "This is very difficult," she said. "We
want to be as humane about it as possible," she said, explaining the personal and
Thomas said that roughly half of all "eligible" first- and second-year faculty
will be told their jobs may be lost due to budget cuts. Approximately ten faculty members
are expected to receive the official notification in personal meetings with the Provost
and their Division Chair on Thursday and Friday.
Thomas stressed that the notifications are a required, preliminary action. Strategic
planning to address budget issues will continue, in hopes of minimizing losses to programs
and, ultimately, students. "We're required by law to deliver these notifications, but
that doesn't mean everyone who gets a letter will be going away," Thomas stated.
"We're going to be doing everything we can to avoid personnel and program
Lewis-Clark State's strategic planning process has been highly participative, and a vital
tool for addressing the budget crisis, according to Institutional Research and Assessment
Director Chet Herbst. The college is also gathering information on possible early
retirement options and organizational strategies to help mitigate immediate losses to
programs. "We know it's much more difficult, much more costly to re-start a program
once it's been lost," he said. "Slash-and-burn' won't apply here; we're hoping
that collectively we can come up with plans that serve the college and the students in the