Community College of Allegheny County trustees unanimously approved a proposal on Thursday that would help chip away at the school’s $3 million deficit.
CCAC will offer early retirement incentives and close its four childcare centers in an effort to cut costs.
CCAC spokeswoman Elizabeth Johnston said it’s unknown how many employees will take the early retirement option, but several hundred could be eligible.
“Depending on the number of employees who ultimately take the offer, as well as the number of positions that will ultimately have to be replaced to ensure program and operation continuity,” she said, “we’re hoping to reduce personnel expenses by between $1 million to $3 million over the next several budget years.”
According to a 2012 report from the U.S. Department of Education, CCAC employs about 2,050 people — including 850 full-time administrators, educators and clerical workers, while the other 1,200 work part-time.
To qualify for early retirement, an employee must be at least 60 years old and have worked at the college for more than 20 years as of June 30. The effective date of the employee’s retirement must be no earlier than June 30 and no later than Aug. 1, 2014.
Johnston said CCAC continues to respond to current fiscal challenges “and these include rising costs, decreased student enrollment and flat funding.”
CCAC has 16,767 students enrolled across its four campuses. This time last year, that number was 18,569. That’s a nearly 10 percent drop.
But declining student enrollment isn’t the only factor at play in CCAC’s financial troubles.
According to Johnston, the child care centers at CCAC’s Allegheny, Boyce, South and North campuses haven’t been profitable for years and closing them could save more than $1 million.
“Because the centers have been operating at a loss for some time and the fact that this loss is unsustainable for the college,” she said, “the college did seek proposals from qualified child care providers to consider taking over the operations of the four campus centers.”
There were no bids.
CCAC officials said the child care centers are not at capacity and only serve a small number of faculty and staff. The centers lost about $1.1 million from July 2011 through June 2013.
Despite the financial hardships, Johnston’s not worried about the future of the community college.
“CCAC is not unique in having to face fiscal challenges,” she said. “And the college and the board of trustees have shown that they are attempting to be as fiscally responsible (as possible) to face these ongoing challenges.”