PORT ANGELES — Peninsula College will eliminate about 15 positions and suspend its continuing education program beginning this summer, the school announced.
Continuing education will be offered again, said college President Luke Robins, but when is unknown. The suspension at this point is indefinite.
It’s part of the school’s effort to address an $800,000 deficit, Robins said Saturday, outlining several steps the college will take to address the shortfall.
Peninsula College will begin re-evaluating the non-credit continuing education program this summer while continuing to offer for-credit courses in several community education fields including carpentry, welding and ceramics, college spokeswoman Kari Desser said in a Friday evening press release.
College officials last week attributed the deficit to declining enrollment.
Robins said Saturday in a telephone interview that “in the neighborhood of 15” classified, exempt and faculty positions will be eliminated through budget cuts to address the shortfall, some through retirement.
Robins said one position will be eliminated by suspending the continuing education program.
Enrollment in continuing education does not cover the cost of providing the program, which has been an issue with the program, he said.
Rather, the college has traditionally offered non-credit continuing education courses “as a service to the community,” he said.
“What we have to be mindful of is our primary mission is to provide credit instruction to students who are working on degrees and certifications, to re-enter the workforce or transfer for a four-year degree.
“This is part of the entire process of us reducing our budget,” Robins added.
“It’s less about saving money in this particular situation as it is about us being able to take the time and structuring what we are doing there and restructure the program and roll out a new process for continuing education courses.
“It may take the summer and fall and through the winter, it may take an entire year.
“We are not getting rid of continuing education forever.”
Truck driving, traffic flagger
Robins said truck driving and traffic-flagger courses will be offered as needed when there are enough requests.
Adult education and General Educational Development (GED) certificate courses, along with pre-college-level courses, also will continue to be offered, he added.
Robins said there are “in the neighborhood of 100 to 200 students” who are in the continuing education program.
“These are students who are taking one personal interest course at a time, they are not working on a degree, not working on some sort of accreditation or professional development situation,” he said.
Continuing education courses might include pottery, fishing the North Olympic Peninsula, or how to use a computer for people who don’t know how, Robins said.
The goal is to make Peninsula College courses pay for themselves, and the continuing education program is not doing that, he said.
“We have to spend time to figure out how to make that a cost-effective part of the operation,” Robins said.
He said overall staff cuts will include a couple of classified positions that will be eliminated and positions dropped through retirements, but that the details have not been worked out yet.
Some faculty positions left vacant by retirements will not be filled immediately with full-time, tenure-track teachers “unless there is a compelling need to do that,” Robins said.
Some administrative exempt positions also will not be filled when employees retire, he said.
In addition, schedules will be streamlined and the college will employ fewer adjunct professors, he said.
Peninsula College is based in Port Angeles and operates branches in Forks and Port Townsend.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].