The St. Louis Community College Board has approved a series of budget reductions, including voluntary buyouts, suspensions of sabbaticals, changes to benefits and layoffs of as many as 70 faculty and 25 staff members.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the college says employees affected by the layoffs will be told by March 1 and that their roles will continue through the end of the academic year in May 2018.
The vote came after protests by students and others delayed the board meeting for nearly an hour. Some protesters lay down in front of the board and shouted, “Justice for faculty.”
St. Louis Community College Chancellor Jeff Pittman called the cuts and layoffs difficult and necessary.
More than a dozen people, most of them professors, spoke out against the proposed layoffs during the public comment segment of the meeting.
College leaders have said cuts are needed in order to address budget woes that have arisen because the school has lost more than 10,000 students since 2011 and state funding has been curtailed. By budget year 2020, the deficit for the school system could reach almost $13 million, administrators say.
The proposed buyout and layoffs are estimated to save about $6 million.
Those opposing the cuts say that the campus community hasn't been given a proper say in the processes that led to the budget proposals.
Administrators have disputed the contention that faculty, staff and students haven't had a say. They note that faculty, students and staffers have met with the chancellor and board members to express concerns about the layoffs.