Last week, I wrote about layoffs at Lakeland Community College in Kirtland, OH. LCC is about 20 miles northeast of Cleveland. At the time, LCC had announced the terminations of 25 staff members; however, that was not the full extent of the cuts. The Board voted last week to eliminate 66 positions, which comprise 10% of the LCC staff.
According to the school, the layoffs will balance the 2024 budget without tapping into the institution’s reserves. Only 41 of the 66 terminated employees will receive some type of severance benefits. Terry Tobin, the president of the Lakeland Faculty Association claims that the layoffs do not reflect the state of LCC’s enrollment. Tobin claimed that the school’s full-time enrollment has declined by only 1% in the past year, and its part-time enrollment dropped by .8%.
That’s not really representative of the problems that LCC is facing. In the 2011-2012 academic year, LCC delivered 201,600 credit hours of instruction. The school’s 12-month enrollment at that time was nearly 12,250. Ten years later, in the 2021-2022 academic year, LCC delivered 92,162 credit hours of instruction, and the school’s 12-month enrollment was just over 7,000 students. That’s a nearly 43% drop in enrollment and a greater than 55% drop in the number of credit hours of instruction.
Staff members have reported that LCC has neglected maintenance in the classrooms, and that some classrooms are without working HVAC. According to LCC president Morris Beverage – who announced his retirement less than a month after signing a new employment contract with LCC – the institution will make additional cuts later this year. The newly announced reductions will likely save the school $3.5M in the current budget cycle.
Layoffs are an administrative failure
Lakeland CC’s budget problems are not new, and its enrollment decline has been obvious for at least the last decade. It should have been most obvious to the LCC president, who had been the institution’s Chief Financial Officer prior to being promoted. The question that everyone should be asking is, “Why didn’t the Board of Trustees do something about the enrollment decline when it became clear it was happening?” Make no mistake, this is a Board issue. Their job is to provide fiscal oversight – to guard the people’s investment in the institution. As long as you’re paying attention, it’s kind of hard to miss a 40+% drop in enrollment and a 55% drop in credit hours.
The administration has squandered the possibility of investing in new programs and new equipment. Instead, the Trustees are left to vote on eliminating the jobs of 66 people in the hope that it will somehow straighten out the mess their own inaction created. They already have plans to eliminate more jobs, but no plans to create new programs, increase credit hour instruction, or recruit new students. They seem to have missed out on a basic lesson of business: “You cannot cut your way to prosperity.”
This is what happens when you have a Board that is asleep at the wheel.
Photo Credit: Lakeland Community College, via Flickr