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Owens to lay off dozens due to budget shortfalls

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Mike Bower, President of Owens Community College, speaks at a forum at the school in 2012. Owens has announced layoffs to cope with projected budget shortfalls.

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More than two dozen Owens Community College administrative staff members will be laid off and even more positions could be cut, as the community college faces projected budget shortfalls.

The college's Board of Trustees passed a resolution today that says "a reduction in the workforce is required due to substandard enrollment and rigorous economies," as Owens projects a $2.8 million deficit for this fiscal year, and a more than $7.5 million budget shortfall for next fiscal year.

Owens has already told about 30 administrative staff members their contracts will not likely be renewed this summer, and 30 others will be either reassigned or have their contracts modified.

Enrollment has fallen well short of predictions, with actual full-time equivalent enrollment at about 8,700, less than the projected 11,500. The college has reduced its budget by about $7 million during the past nine months, through increases in class sizes, delays in building maintenance, reductions in travel, and reductions in part-time hours, among other cuts, according to the board resolution.

Owens President Mike Bower said it's too early to determine what the scope or manner of further cuts would look like, and there's a chance the projected deficit could be reduced through increases in revenue, though he said any tuition increases would be small. While enrollment overall is down, some programs are growing, he said. The college's budget analysis and plan for deficit reductions is ongoing.

"I think we'll consider everyone's input," Mr. Bower said.

While many specifics are still unclear, among the announced cuts would be the elimination of the Owens Community College Child Care Center, which cares for almost 100 children between the ages of 6 weeks to 8 years and serves students, faculty, staff, and the community.

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