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Ventura County

Lean Budget OKd for Community Colleges

Trustees of the Ventura County district approve a tentative plan that calls for spending about $15 million less than the previous year.

June 28, 2003|Amanda Covarrubias | Times Staff Writer

Trustees of the Ventura County Community College District approved a $106-million budget Friday that reflects the hardships imposed by the state's ongoing financial crisis, officials said.

The tentative operating budget for the 2003-04 school year is about $15 million less than this year's and includes more than $10.5 million in personnel and service cuts.

Trustee Mary Anne Rooney said the board did what it could to lessen the effect on students. Nevertheless, the tighter budget will be felt in the classrooms of the district's three campuses.

"We're trying to do the least harm, but students will feel it," Rooney said. "They might see it in a reduction of classes and in services, like tutoring and extended library hours."

Each campus had to cut 11% of its individual budget.

Much of the overall reduction came in the form of early retirement and work hour reductions for employees, including faculty members.

After the faculty union agreed to an early retirement and salary reduction package that will save $5.8 million, the Service Employees International Union Local 535, which represents nonfaculty workers, approved $3.6 million in cuts that included 31 people taking $12,000 incentives to retire early. All remaining members accepted a shorter work week. Thirty SEIU members were laid off, but 20 of them landed positions elsewhere in the district.

Managers and supervisors are making proportional concessions in the form of 1% salary rollbacks and, for the first time, monthly contributions to their health-care premiums. Those concessions will save the district more than $1 million, district officials said.

The budget will remain tentative until the state approves its own budget, but the district was required to approve a spending plan before the new fiscal year begins July 1.

The final budget must be approved by Sept. 15.

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