WENATCHEE — A second round of talks is underway this week between Wenatchee Valley College administrators and employees over furloughs and layoffs proposed to narrow a $1 million budget deficit.
The first round of meetings with both the classified and faculty unions took place the week of Nov. 18.
“Both unions are still in discussion with administrators,” WVC Community Relations Director Libby Siebens said in an email Monday. “We do not yet have formal agreements from the meetings. There was a second meeting with the faculty union today (Monday). And a second meeting with the classified union is set for tomorrow (Tuesday).”
She confirmed that layoffs, in addition to days without pay, are being considered, but nothing has yet been decided.
Separate from the union negotiations, college administrators also are working on a separation/retirement incentive program.
“The package is waiting on formal approval from the Office of Financial Management at this time,” Siebens said.
WVC administrators earlier proposed all full-time WVC employees take a 10-day furlough before the end of June. That move, according to information provided by WVC, would bridge the $1 million budget gap they attribute to a drop in enrollment.
The 75 non-union, full-time exempt employees, which includes administrators, their secretaries and office staff, agreed to the furlough in early November.
The faculty union, Association for Higher Education, which includes 80 full-time and 12 part-time members in Wenatchee and Omak, and the Washington Public Employees Association, with about 89 full-time WVC employees, did not embrace the offer.
The official negotiation process includes forming a Budget and Program Review Task Force tasked with examining the reason for the budget gap, the current financial situation and next steps.
WVC President Jim Richardson attributes the financial shortfall to lower enrollment — due to low unemployment, smaller incoming high school classes and a drop in Running Start students — all part of a 10-year trend.
Others say WVC’s financial problems are more about how the funds are being managed.