Frequently Asked Questions
Updated Feb. 5, 2020
Note: Unless otherwise specified, all statements apply to WVC’s entire service district, which includes both Wenatchee and Omak campuses.
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Why is WVC projecting a $1 million deficit?
Wenatchee Valley College has a seen a 10-year decline in enrollments. Significant factors for the decline include continued low unemployment and smaller incoming high school classes.
Since 2010, enrollment in career and technical programs has declined 30%. Smaller high school class sizes directly impacted Running Start enrollment. This is the first year since 1993, when the program was first offered at WVC, that fewer students enrolled.
If the enrollment decline was a long-term trend, why was WVC caught off-guard?
When registration opened for fall quarter in May, enrollments were strong. The enrollment rate continued at a five-year high through the month of August. Due to the strong outlook, the board of trustees approved the yearly operating budget based on a conservative 2% increase in enrollment.
Unfortunately, the rate of enrollment abruptly declined in September and did not recover when the quarter began, unlike previous years (see 60 day registration chart below). The end result is a nearly $1 million projected deficit in the college operating budget.
How much has enrollment decreased?
Fall quarter enrollment dropped by 2.1%. The total unduplicated headcount* is expected to be 6,289 by the end of the year versus 6,934 students last year. Ten years ago, 7,605 students were enrolled.
*Unduplicated headcount counts each student once. It is based on the individual numbers of students taking classes and not on how many classes they take or how many quarters they’re enrolled.
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How will WVC close the deficit?
At this time, 86% of the operating budget is spent on personnel costs. As a result, WVC is focusing on this area first. In addition, the president is working with the board of trustees, his cabinet and college employees to identify other areas where spending can be reduced or costs can be saved.
What is being done to boost enrollment?
One thing being done to boost enrollment is the creation of new academic programs. WVC has two new programs starting soon. Pharmacy Technician starts this winter. It’s a flexible evening and weekend program and students can complete a one-year certificate or two-year degree.
We were also approved by the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) to offer a new bachelor’s of applied science in teaching. Pending further approval, the BAS-Teaching degree will meet an immediate need for early education teachers and special education teachers (preschool through third grade) in WVC’s service district.
The college also continues to reach out to and provide services for non-traditional college students, including:
- Running Start students
- Worker retraining and workforce grant students
- Adult basic education students
- People seeking a GED ® or high school diploma
- Certificate-seeking students
- Continuing Education students
- and many others
How will employees be affected?
As of November 2019, WVC employs 499 people throughout the district. Of that, 249 employees are full-time. The college has three major types of full-time employees: 75 exempt (non-union), 85 classified (union) and 90 faculty (union).
The following steps are being taken to reduce costs:
- Leave without pay: Currently, exempt (non-union) staff are taking 10 days of leave without pay. Exempt
staff making $50,000 or less are taking eight days of leave without pay. Leave without
pay details are being finalized for the classified union and outcomes will be communicated
While it is uncertain if faculty will take furlough days, they continue to work together with administrators and are considering other ways to help the college budget.
- Layoffs: WVC is laying off 21 staff (9 exempt and 12 classified), effective the end of January.
No faculty positions are affected at this time. Areas with the most affected employees
are instructional support, IT, facilities, student services and administrative services.
It still being determined how roles will change in these areas.
- Hiring: As of October 2019, all vacated positions are subject to review before being filled. This means the college will see a decrease in hiring and positions will be left vacant for the foreseeable future.
Timeline of events related to budget
July 25-Sept. 2, 2019: Enrollment is the highest it has been in four years.
Sept. 3-Sept. 10, 2019: There is a slight drop in enrollment, but remains higher than it has been since 2015.
Sept. 11, 2019: Board of Trustees meeting. The board was informed of the slight decrease in enrollment.
Sept. 13, 2019 (10 days before start of fall quarter): A sudden drop in enrollment puts fall quarter well below the average numbers for this time. Enrollment is now the lowest it’s been since 2015. While many years see a drop a week or so prior to the start of the quarter, a significant recovery is often realized before the quarter begins. In fall 2019, there was no growth between Sept. 13 and day one of fall quarter (Sept. 23).
Sept. 17, 2019: President’s Day during Launch Week 2019 (all employee gathering). The president gives an all-district presentation on the decline in enrollment and what it might mean for the college. At this time, layoffs and furlough days are not being considered. The projected budget deficit has not yet been determined — estimates will not be finalized until the 10th day of the quarter.
Sept. 23, 2019: Fall quarter starts.
Oct. 3, 2019 (10 days after the start of the quarter): Record-low enrollment is confirmed. More accurate projections can now be made.
Sept. 23 – Oct. 10, 2019: The president and his cabinet continue to meet. The institutional research team presents data to help estimate how enrollment will be affected for the rest of the academic year. The Vice President of Administration and WVC Budget Analyst begin to calculate a more accurate projected budget deficit based on the roughly 2% decline in enrollment.
Oct. 11, 2019: The president sends an all-district email announcing the 2% enrollment drop and warns WVC of “significant changes to the college budget.” The projected budget deficit has not yet been finalized. He invites both campuses to an all-district meeting on Oct. 24.
Oct. 24, 2019: All-District Meeting. The president announces to both campuses the final projected budget deficit of $1 million. In the time elapsed since his email on Oct. 11, it’s become apparent that, due to the size of the projected budget deficit, furlough days will be considered. The classified and faculty unions will be approached to discuss this option. Layoffs were also presented as an option at this meeting. The president and his cabinet are considering the option of layoffs but the decision to lay off employees has not been made. A budget information email address is announced and employees are encouraged to send their questions, concerns and ideas for cost-saving measures.
Nov. 4, 2019: Exempt employees are required to take 10 furlough days (leave without pay).
Nov. 17, 2019: The president meets with the Associated Students of WVC to notify them of the projected budget deficit and furloughs.
Dec. 2, 2019: Employees are told in meetings and through an all-district email that layoffs are being discussed, in addition to furlough days. The number and timing of layoff notices is not confirmed. An all-exempt employee meeting is held to answer employee questions about leave and impact on workflow.
Dec. 4, 2019: The president announces in an all-district email that exempt staff making $50,000 or less the option to take eight furlough days versus 10.
Dec. 5, 2019: The president announces in an all-district email that 20 employees will be laid off effective Jan. 31. Affected employees are notified individually.
Dec. 9, 2019: Classified staff are notified that they will be taking 64 hours (8 days) of furlough time.
Jan. 31, 2020: Lay offs are effective on this date.
How does enrollment impact WVC’s operating budget?
State funding is affected as our enrollment goes up or down. For example, fewer enrolled students results in less tuition and fewer operating funds from the state in future years.
How much of WVC’s funding comes from student tuition?
Approximately 48% is derived from tuition, fees and other contractual relationships. The remaining 52% of our budget is funded through the state allocation. However, state allocation funds are becoming further divided into specific categories. Examples include wildfire education, guided pathways, aerospace engineering and others. The net result is less financial flexibility to fund day-to-day operations.
Can WVC increase tuition?
No. The cost of tuition is set by the legislature and not by the community and technical colleges.
Can WVC bond or levy funds like the school districts can?
No, community and technical colleges are not allowed to bond or levy taxpayers.
Can WVC use financial reserve funds to balance the budget?
No. In prior years, administrators balanced the budget using financial reserves. This is no longer a viable option.
How do funding limitations and mandates affect the operational budget?
One of the biggest strains on our operational budget is decreased flexibility in how the college can spend its money. Mandates at the legislative and state board level require the college to divvy up its budget into “buckets,” and each bucket can only be used to fund the one thing it is intended for. For example, in 2012, the college only had four “buckets” restricting funding, and in 2019, the number of buckets increased to 11. The number of buckets is expected to increase to 13 in 2021. This results in an operating budget that cannot be used flexibly to fund necessary positions or projects at the college.
How have hiring trends impacted the operational budget?
The college has cited personnel costs as one of its major budget concerns. Approximately 86% of WVC’s operating budget goes toward personnel. However, it’s been pointed out that the college has done some significant hiring in the past few years. There are a few reasons for this. First, some of these positions are funded by grants and special allocations. Specialty programs like MESA require WVC to hire employees, however the college is not responsible for paying for those positions. Other hires have been based on a clear and present need in our district. In recent years, WVC has hired multiple necessary positions, including a budget analyst, a safety, security and emergency manager and a tribal liaison to steward our relationship with the Colville Tribes. These positions allow the college to fulfill its mission and serve its students.
While it’s true that the college has needed to decrease personnel costs, the issue has become more pressing due to decreased flexibility in how the college can spend its money. Mandates at the legislative and state board level require the college to divvy up its budget into “buckets,” and each bucket can only be used to fund the one thing it is intended for. For example, in 2012, the college only had four “buckets” restricting funding, and in 2019, the number of buckets increased to 11. The number of buckets is expected to increase to 13 in 2021. This results in an operating budget that cannot be used flexibly to fund necessary positions or projects at the college.
How is the operational budget spent?
Generally speaking, the operational budget can be broken down into roughly three categories each year:
- Personnel: 86%
- Goods and services (including office supplies, contractual services, printing, etc.): 12.4%
- Travel (e.g., trainings and conferences): 0.89%
The college also makes payments on three certificates of participation (COP). A COP is similar to a mortgage from the state treasury and allows the college to build new facilities. The college is currently paying down COPs for three buildings:
- Jack & Edna Maguire Student Recreation Center
- Music and Art Center
- Residence hall
The MAC is the only COP that comes out of operating funds. It accounts for less than one percent (0.64%) of the college’s operational budget each year. This building has been essential to serving our students. Without it, WVC art and music classes would still be taking place in closets, portables and construction trailers.
A fourth COP will be added for the construction of the Wells Hall Replacement building and will be paid down as local pledges are made to the foundation for the construction of that building. Learn more in the “Capital & new buildings” tab.
Is this something that's been happening statewide? Or is localized to WVC?
It is a statewide trend, at least a dozen other community and technical colleges are facing shortfalls. Walla Walla Community College and Grays Harbor College publicly addressed their budget concerns recently as well.
How will students be affected?
We are doing everything we can to ensure students can continue their education and be successful. At this time, classes, programs, support services and basic college functions will continue to operate normally. However, students should know that many departments around campus may be taking unpaid leave or have vacant positions for the foreseeable future. Your patience during this time is appreciated.
Will classes be canceled due to the budget deficit?
No. The annual schedule of classes is already confirmed and in place for the academic year.
Will academic programs be cut?
Academic programs and degrees will not be immediately effected. There are currently no plans to cut programs at WVC in the 2019-20 academic year. However, it should be noted that if a program is cut in the future, many steps will be taken to ensure students are still able to complete their degrees or certificates. This means that students who are already enrolled in cut programs would be able to finish out their degrees. The only change is if a program were no longer offered, no new students would be accepted into that program.
How will student support programs like MESA, CAMP, TRIO and Running Start be affected?
There are no plans to stop or remove any of these programs.
How is WVC putting students first?
In all major decisions concerning the college, students come first. The college has been recognized for its efforts to make students its first priority by its accrediting body, the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
In the college’s accreditation review, accreditors commended the college for:
- holistic support of student success and supporting all students, including the unique needs of non‐traditional, first‐generation, and underrepresented students.
- create a diverse, welcoming and inclusive environment for students, faculty and staff of all backgrounds.
- responsiveness across the spectrum of workforce, social, demographic, economic and environmental needs throughout the service region.
- creation of the new strategic plan that closely aligned with the college’s mission and core themes.
Read WVC's mission and more about accreditation on our "About" page.
What is the long-term outlook for WVC?
While many changes are coming, and we understand this is a difficult time for everyone at the college, we are confident that WVC can continue to serve its students and fulfill its mission. Over the next several years, efforts will be made to balance the budget, build up our reserves and work toward financial security. This will likely mean changes to how the college is organized and how our work is done, but our students will remain our first priority. We will work to preserve the programs and services that make our students successful. Low enrollment is not a new problem, and it is not an easy problem to solve. However, we have overcome these challenges before in our 80-year history, and we are determined to do what it takes to overcome them again now.
Why is WVC building a new building at this time?
Wells Hall is currently the oldest building in the community college system built for college instructional purposes and has outlived its usefulness. The Wells Hall Replacement will be a 73,935 square-foot, three-story building that will provide much-needed space for various college departments and services, as well 25 new classrooms. The building will also house a public conference center and the Chelan County Emergency Operations Center.
How will WVC fund the building project?
None of the funding for the building will come from the college’s operating budget. Capital funds are allocated by the state and are separate from operating funds. The Wells Hall Replacement project is $37 million in total (pre-design, design and construction). This year the state legislature allocated $32 million for the project. The college is not responsible for paying back this portion. When this project was submitted to the state for capital funds, the college chose to commit local funds to a portion of the building. At the time, a local contribution was part of the criteria used by the state to select capital projects. After the $32 million in capital funds from the state, the remaining local portion for the Wells Hall Replacement is $5 million.
The WVC Foundation is in the planning process for a capital campaign to tentatively launch in mid-2020 to fundraise for both the Wells Hall Replacement and the Batjer Replacement (Center for Technical Education and Innovation) building projects. Campaign funds raised will be used to pay for any local portion of the new buildings.
Currently, the foundation has received approximately $810,000 toward the projects. Capital campaign funds typically come in over a five-year period as pledge payments from donors. During this time period, a $4.5 million certificate of participation (COP) from the state treasury may be used. A COP is similar to a mortgage and allows the college to build new facilities. The COP will be paid down as local pledges are paid to the foundation.
Does the board approve local capital funds for new construction projects?
Yes. The Board of Trustees approves any Certificates of Participation (COP) that the college receives. These COPs are similar to mortgages, and allow the college to create new facilities (see the "Funding" tab for more information). Currently, of the four COPs the college has, the only COP coming from the college operating budget is for the Music and Art Center building.
How is the Student Rec Center funded?
Students voted to fund the Student Recreation Center (SRC) through a Certificate of Participation (like a mortgage, see above) and through fees for students.
Will Student Rec Center student fees increase?
The fees will not be increased unless students vote to increase them. The SRC is looking to add more streams of revenue, including guest passes, employee passes, community organization and rental. In 2019, the SRC saw a 226% increase in revenue compared to 2018 from rentals, guests passes and staff memberships).
What is a no confidence vote?
No confidence votes in higher education are usually symbolic and have no legal or contractual power. They are used as a meaningful way of expressing dissatisfaction with a president or leader at a college. A majority of full-time tenured faculty at WVC voted that they had no confidence in the president. Part-time and adjunct instructors did not vote. At a board meeting on Jan. 15, the Associate of Higher Education WVC faculty union called for the Board of Trustees to remove the president and a delivered a report they had prepared citing specific complaints, including concerns over the president's salary.
Will the Board of Trustees remove the college president?
The board issued a statement on Jan. 22 responding to the faculty union. In their response, they expressed support for President Richardson and said they would not remove him. They added that they hope that both the board of trustees and college employees can continue to listen respectfully to each other and improve, saying "We feel strongly about the college’s ability to uphold the mission – we hope that our shared commitment to student success can unite us during these difficult times."
How is the college president's salary set?
The WVC Board of Trustees is responsible for hiring presidents, negotiating their contracts and setting their salaries, and removing them, if necessary. In determining salary for a president position many things are considered, including retention. President employment contracts can have vacation cash out options, sabbatical options, and long term disability plan options, among others.
In a statement in January 2020, the board said that they created President Richardson's contract and set his current salary to "retain someone who has shown excellent leadership and unyielding compassion for our students."
Did the president get a $40,000 raise last year?
No, but he did receive $41,482 retroactively after it was discovered that a clerical error had been made. The president’s contract, which is active through June 2022, guarantees a three percent salary increase each year. Due to an error, the three percent increase had not been paid since 2015. The retroactive amount for the four years was paid in February 2019.