At the start of the pandemic three years ago, Bryan Miyagishima and another college librarian drove across the southern Willamette Valley to give laptops to students taking classes from home.
“We did not want them to have to take public transportation and expose themselves to the virus,” said Miyagishima, who has done a lot outside of his duties in his 16 years as a faculty librarian at Linn-Benton Community College.
Since the pandemic started, a lot has changed at community colleges like Linn-Benton, and in many ways, the school is still not back to “normal.”
Colleges are getting ready for budget cuts because enrollment has been falling for a long time and the federal government will soon stop giving them money for pandemics. The hardest hit are teachers like Miyagishima.
Miyagishima and the other full-time faculty librarians at Linn-Benton will all lose their jobs at the end of this school year. Among other budget cuts, the college plans to get rid of two of its academic programs.
Don’t Miss Out on Local News and Events – Click the Links Below for Oregon Local Area Updates.
- Oregon Mecca Grade Estate Malt and Brewery for Sale
- Oregon Governor Declares Drought Emergencies in Deschutes
Lower enrollment isn’t new, but with the upcoming state budget still up in the air and federal funding for pandemics coming to an end, many colleges face a bleak financial future.
Faculty and students are worried about how budget cuts might affect the community as a whole, and college advocates are asking Oregon to better fund public institutions that often serve diverse and underserved groups.
“It’s not a Band-Aid cut, you know? You can’t just slap the Band-Aid on, and then in a couple of years things will get back to normal and things will be as good as new. It’s really more akin to slicing off a hand, as these appendages will never be the same in the future,” Miyagishima said.
The library at Linn-Benton Community College is one of the places where cuts are being made. All of the full-time staff at the library will leave at the end of this school year. Bryan Miyagishima is to thank for this.
The college plans to get rid of its criminal justice and computer science programs at the end of the next school year. This June, all of the full-time library staff will be let go.
LBCC is going to use a teach-out plan to make sure that students who are already enrolled can finish their degrees. There will be a total of 11 full-time faculty positions cut, 10 of which are already filled and one that isn’t.
The college also got rid of one unfilled classified job and two unfilled manager jobs. Lisa Avery, the president of LBCC, said that there will be more cuts to management, which will be announced before the summer.
The college in Albany also plans to change its Adult Basic Skills program so that it can run on a smaller budget.
Miyagishima said he worries that students won’t get the help and services they need. Students worry about the same thing.
“As students, it’s worrying to see programs cut while enrollment is low and tuition is increasing,” Danae Fouts, LBCC’s student body president said in a statement. “If programs are cut, we could see less enrollment, and if enrollment is flat or goes down, the college is in the same financial crisis that leads them to have to increase tuition and cut more programs and resources.
It is definitely not a cycle we want to see where current students end up taking on more burden when there are already so many barriers to attending college.”
Danae Fouts is the head of the Linn-Benton Community College student body. She says that she hopes the college won’t get into a cycle of cutting programs while raising tuition. HERRLING, JODI
The LBCC Board of Education recently decided that tuition will go up by 6% starting this summer.
Avery from LBCC said that this is an attempt to make up for a $4 million budget gap that is expected in the next two years. Avery said the proposed cuts add up to just under $2.5 million, which is about how much money is expected to be short for this school year.
Many of Oregon’s community colleges are struggling to balance their budgets because they have lost a lot of students since the pandemic began in 2020. Even before that, enrollment in many public schools in the state had been going down for a long time.
Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission says that between 2018 and this past fall, the number of students at LBCC dropped by almost 30%.