Those running educational institutions in Oklahoma are facing tough decisions due to budget cuts and Western Oklahoma State College is no exception.
While Tulsa Community College recently announced a plan to eliminate 30 positions from their staff as a result of state funding cuts — 15 full-time and 15 part-time employees — those at WOSC have already put in motion plans to weather the financial storm.
“We’re not the only institution — the budget situation is so dire,” WOSC Public Information Director Judith Meyer said Friday. “There are no changes at this time.”
According to Meyer, WOSC cut as many as 15 staff positions last year and this year’s plan is to cut six other positions when the new fiscal year begins July 1.
“We were thinking way ahead of these budget cuts,” Meyer said of last year’s measure and comparing it to this year’s plan. “Those budget cuts announced in February are just starting to take effect right now.”
The February plan means cutting a total of six positions — two faculty members, three staff members and another person associated with a program that was cut.
According to Meyer, WOSC has 99 full-time staff and faculty employees, about 40 part-time instructors known as adjuncts and about 100 part-time staff members.
Still, the staff remains upbeat, frugal and fiscally aware of current limitations.
“The college is constantly reviewing ways to be operationally efficient while working within the constraints of our resource challenged environment,” WOSC President Dr. Phil Birdine said Friday. “Through energy conservation efforts initiated more than three years ago, Western is successfully meeting its self-established energy efficiency goals. Additionally, through our 2015 Strategic Planning process, the college has identified low productivity academic programs to delete from its program inventory and faculty and staff positions that will not be filled through attrition.”
According to Birdine, there are still professional development programs to keep the remaining staff trained while continuing efforts to obtain additional funding from outside, but interested sources.
“Lastly, the college is actively pursuing financial support through targeted grant applications, writing and from stakeholders who have a vested interest in selected academic programs, such as nursing and other allied health programs,” Birdine said. “Any funds secured through these processes will be used to supplement the significant loss of state appropriations which has occurred since July 1, 2015.”
Officials in Altus, like their counterparts across the state, are now taking a wait-and-see approach as Legislators wrestle with the reality of future budget cuts that could easily be between 8-10 percent in the new fiscal year.
“We’re waiting to see what happens,” Meyer said. “(Our) budget will be due in June to state regents.
Reach Eric Steinkopff at firstname.lastname@example.org or 580-482-1221 ext. 2072.