More than a dozen workers losing their jobs
Brittany D. McClureThe Valdosta Daily Times
VALDOSTA — Wiregrass Georgia Technical College’s Valdosta campus is currently going through a Reduction In Force (RIF) that will leave 13 employees without jobs and 20 others with demotions and decreased hours.
“This was a very painful decision,” said Dr. Ray Perren, president of Wiregrass.
According to Perren, the RIF was not due to money mismanagement, but rather a combination of declining enrollment and declining state allocations.
“There was absolutely no money mismanagement,” said Perren. “We did recently have a 3 percent state budget cut.”
Perren stated that while reviewing enrollment in early August, it became apparent that the numbers were not anywhere near what they expected. He feels that the drop in enrollment has a lot to do with the changes to the HOPE (Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally) scholarship.
In Fall 2010, 87 percent of Wiregrass’ students were receiving HOPE. In Fall 2012, only 56 percent of Wiregrass’ students are receiving HOPE, a drop of over 30 percent.
“The changes have really had an impact on our enrollment,” said Perren.
While those employees who are being laid off, demoted or having their hours decreased have already been notified, the changes will not take place officially until October 6, 2012.
Of the 13 full-time employees whose jobs were eliminated, three of them have been placed in a different job at Wiregrass.
“Only ten completely lost their jobs,” said Perren.
The overwhelming majority of these cuts came from mid to upper-level members of the college’s administration.
“We hope these cuts will ensure the college remains financially strong for years to come,” said Perren.
Perren does not anticipate any more layoffs, but added that it really depends on the spring enrollment numbers.
Wiregrass is doing a few things to help drive enrollment numbers. In addition to participating in an experiment with the Federal Pell Grant program that will possibly make Pell more available to certain students, Wiregrass is also trying to offer more financial aid options.
“We’re looking at programs where enrollment is strong to see what we can do to further increase enrollment,” said Perren.
Currently, Wiregrass is working on getting an Associate’s degree of Nursing program. They are presenting the program to the Georgia Board of Nursing and will hopefully have the program in place to start January of 2014.
According to Perren, despite the RIF, Wiregrass is going to continue to give their students a quality education.
“Our aim is to assure we continue to provide high quality instruction and services to students while making the necessary budget cuts,” said Perren.