Rebalancing the staff with 200 retirements in non-critical need areas is the goal.
By Katherine Garcia
A retirement incentive program presented during the Audit, Budget and Finance Committee meeting Tuesday in Killen Center has been forwarded for recommended approval at the Tuesday regular board meeting.
According to the minute order, up to $6 million would be set aside as retirement incentive bonuses and would be earned back in 13 months by saving “through the elimination of positions and salaries.”
The incentive would be a one-time payment equal to 50 percent of base salary not exceeding $47,500 for full-time employees meeting the rule of 80, a combined number of years of service and age equaling 80.
Presidents, chancellors and vice chancellors are not eligible for the program.
Linda Boyer-Owens, associate vice chancellor of human resources and organization, presented the program to the board, saying the incentive has been offered twice in the past few years. The last program turned over about 189 positions, and the district refilled about 25 percent of the positions, or about 50 people.
She said the incentive also would rebalance the staff, and it “helps us free up positions that we can then redeploy to areas where we have significant demand in terms of program growth or additional support requirements that we’re identifying now.”
Areas in which employees would be needed if more employees retired include health career fields; advising; and STEM, which stands for science, technology engineering and math.
She said the plan is to reduce about 40 percent of the positions expected to turn over and reassign another 60 percent, or 120, positions.
Of the 343 eligible, 158 are employees of this college.
Two hundred of the 343 eligible employees are
expected to participate, and the incentive is first-come, first-served until the $6 million set aside is depleted. The option could open as soon as April 1, and those wishing to retire by Aug. 31 would have to file by June 1, and those wishing to retire by Jan. 9, 2015, would have to file by July 1.
Employees receiving the incentive would receive a lump-sum payment within 30 days of separation and could not be rehired full-time within two years but could be rehired for part-time work after a one-month separation.
She said a large number of faculty return as adjuncts.
“What guarantees do you have that the retirees will be in those areas where you have a declining need?” District 8 trustee Gary Beitzel asked.
Boyer-Owens said there is no guarantee. “If you pull in 200 of the 343 that are eligible, we are going to hit a lot of areas where we need to downsize,” she said. “But we could turn over some people we really need, and we have to replace into those positions.
“What’s your plan if you don’t get a sufficient number of retirees out of those declining need areas?” Beitzel asked.
Diane Snyder, vice chancellor of finance and administration, answered, “But we have looked at the eligibility and what all the folks that could qualify, that may elect this, we believe that it will have a benefit to the institution to those areas that we really have capacity that we could then be able to fill in some positions elsewhere.”
Chancellor Bruce Leslie explained, “We will manage well so we never have to lay off, we never have to furlough, we never have to cut people’s salaries. That’s our objective and this helps us to achieve it.”
Besides the fiscal benefits, District 1 trustee Roberto Zarate asked the chancellor what the benefits to students are.
“If we have lower student enrollments in certain programs, you don’t necessarily need to have as many full-time people as we have, and it’s better for the students for us to shift those resources to where we really need to have them,” Leslie said.