Mineral Area College has made its second round of significant cuts this year as enrollment continues to decline.
The Board of Trustees approved a Reduction in Force (RIF) plan of $1.2 million last Thursday that will take effect on July 1, 2021. The board approved one last April and more cuts could be coming in April 2021.
A release from MAC sent out Wednesday evening said the institution’s financial circumstances caused by downward enrollment trends, reduced state funding, and current economic conditions impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, led to the decision.
“These were difficult decisions to make to ensure fiscal responsibility and sustainability for years to come,” said MAC President Dr. Joe Gilgour. “Though this decision represents a dark time in Mineral Area College history, we will work hard to move forward and continue to serve the residents of this region.”
Gilgour said the best-case scenario for a projected budget deficit this year is $1.4 million, worst-case is $3.2 million.
The latest reductions announced this week include five departments – theatre, music, agriculture, radiologic technology, and modern and foreign languages – nine full-time teaching faculty, one full-time non-teaching faculty, and three full-time classified staff members. Four vacant full-time positions will remain open at this time.
In addition to these reductions, the college will employ strategies to cut costs in departmental, operational, and part-time staff budgets, the release said.
Gilgour said they hate that that they have to make these decisions.
"We are losing some really, really good people," he said. "None of these decisions were based on performance. It's all purely financial decisions and it's very unfortunate that this had to happen. And we hope it never has to happen again."
The administration reviewed each program by enrollment data, graduates, and revenue, Gilgour said.
"These were the programs that were at the top of the list as far as revenue loss and lack of enrollment," he added.
There was a hint at the cuts in a special meeting the board had in October when the board gave the go-ahead for the administration to look for a 52-passenger vehicle to purchase.
Chief Financial Officer Lori Crump said during that meeting that buying a vehicle will help the school save money on transportation costs, especially for athletics.
Board member Mit Landrum said at the time it was important to stress that it is a cost-saving move.
“I think it's really important that we communicate this to the staff and faculty,” he said in the meeting. “’You guys, you're talking about laying everybody off and yet you’re buying a bus.’”
As stated in the release, MAC’s downward trend in enrollment hasn’t helped the situation.
In the latest enrollment report for Missouri’s public institutions, MAC’s enrollment has declined 43% from 2014 to 2019. There were 4,632 students enrolled in 2014 and 2,640 students in 2019.
Of the 14 two-year colleges, all but two – North Central Missouri College and State Technical College -- saw a decline in the five years, but MAC’s was by far the largest. Three Rivers Community College saw a 29.4% decrease and East Central College saw a 26.5% decrease. The average decline was 17.1%.
Four-year institutions in the state have struggled as well, just not to the same extent. Four of the 13 schools saw an increase. The average decline over those five years was 6.6%, with Lincoln University on top with 21.8%, followed by the University of Missouri-Columbia at 15.3%.
MAC’s spring semester enrollment numbers are not looking any better. Enrollment is open until Jan. 19. According to the latest numbers from Thursday’s board meeting, the total enrollment for the spring so far is 1,403 students. That’s compared to 2,361 students in spring 2020 and 2,390 in spring 2019.
As for eliminating the five departments, the school gave the following reasons in the release:
- Theater: Over the past five years, an average of 1.4 students have graduated annually with an Associate of Arts (AA), Theatre Arts field of study. During the same time period, the department has had a net loss of more than $250,000.
- Music: Over the past five years, an average of 4.2 students have graduated annually with an AA, Music field of study. During the same time period, the department has had a net loss of almost $400,000.
- Agriculture: Over the past five years, an average of six students have graduated annually with an AAS, Agriculture/Horticulture. The AA, Agriculture field of study was begun in FY20 and had 2 graduates. Over the past five (5) years, this department has had a net loss of almost $300,000.
- Radiologic Technology: The Associate of Science in Radiologic Technology program has a five-year average graduation rate of 11.4 students and a 59.2% five-year average passing rate on the AART Credentialing Exam.
- Modern and Foreign Languages: Over the past five years, this department has had a net loss of more than $270,000.
The entire release can be found at https://mineralarea.edu/events/important-updates-regarding-reductions-at-mineral-area-college/
The following positions will be reduced at the end of their contracts: classified general services staff member, agriculture instructor, theater instructor, mail and print services director, two modern foreign languages instructors, access director, radiology instructor, physics/engineering instructor, English instructor, math instructor, payroll staff member, and music/jazz instructor.
Other cuts approved included: elimination of applied music classes (except humanities), elimination of honors programs, elimination of part-time workers in the fitness center, miscellaneous departmental savings, and reduced advanced departmental course offerings or offered on a rotational basis.
Also, the MAC Foundation will reimburse the college for the director's salary (100%) and assistant's salary (50%) for the fiscal year 2022 and staff/non-teaching faculty pay will be moved to adjunct teaching rate from faculty overload schedule.
In April, the following positions were cut: Arts & Sciences dean, testing proctor, student services front counter staff member, custodian, recruiter, two Allied Health administrative assistants, part-time bookstore staff member, career services/student activities staff member, Arts & Sciences administrative assistant, and Law Enforcement Academy instructor.
The following positions saw retirements or were open and won’t be filled: director of information technology, economics instructor, choral director, history instructor, communications instructor, help desk staff member, general services staff member and part-time director of the Houston campus.
Other changes included: cancellation of the alumni magazine for 2020-2021; athletics reductions to away games, charter buses, hotels and meals; budgets and stipends reduced for clubs and organizations; cancellation of College for Kids in summer 2021; employee tuition reimbursement eliminated; Foundation director salary reimbursed by the Foundation; honors program eliminated; minimum seat count increased and overload reduced; payroll expenses at Darrell S. Cole Shooting Range reduced, and theater productions reduced.
Gov. Mike Parson announced on Wednesday an additional $10.1 million for the A+ scholarship program, including $4.9 million in CARES Act funding and $5.2 million in supplemental funding to be proposed in the his recommended budget.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused more students to utilize the A+ program than originally anticipated in the state’s budget,” the release from Parson’s office said. “As a result, community colleges are facing a shortfall of funding for the program.”
Nikki Overfelt-Chifalu is a reporter for the Daily Journal. She can be reached at email@example.com.