Hiring freeze takes effect on campus

A districtwide hiring freeze and an incentive for retirement package was approved by the Coast Community College District Board of Trustees last month in an effort to resolve an apparent budget deficit.

The freeze and retirement incentive will affect all three campuses in the district, Orange Coast College, Golden West College and Coastline College, until June 30, 2021 unless the board extends it.

Officials said student assistants and totally grant-funded positions will not be affected nor will positions posted before Jan. 16. Exceptions to the freeze will be considered by Chancellor John Weispfenning.

Richard Pagel, vice president of Administrative Services said 90.6 percent of the district’s budget is spent on faculty, while student enrollment has declined about 12 percent over the last five years. This, combined with insufficient state funding, has led to a district-wide budget deficit that began in 2017.

“There will be critical positions that the district needs to rehire. It is not an easy time. It is not an easy process. But that’s what our future is going to probably hold,” Pagel said.

The positions left by faculty who choose to retire will be reviewed to evaluate the necessity of hiring for those positions.

Pagel said there have been similar situations on campus over the years, but the most recent hiring freeze was in 2009.  At that time the district implemented a hiring freeze, a separation plan and reduced expenses.

“Ultimately, the economy came back and there was a state-wide proposition that passed that provided additional funding for education,” Pagel said.

Anis Wakim, manager of Instructional Food Services has close to a 100 employees, mostly students, and said that those positions won’t be affected.

Sometime during the spring semester employees will have to notify the district if they plan on retiring, and those positions will only be filled with current personnel.

“This is a great opportunity for internal employees to seek promotionary opportunities, to grow within the organization and to continue to build upon their career paths,” said Vice Chancellor of Human Resources Marco Baeza.