East Central College is implementing new measures, including furloughs, in the wake of state aid withholdings that Gov. Mike Parson announced last week.
The ECC Board of Trustees Monday night approved a recommendation from President Dr. Jon Bauer that all full-time employees be furloughed for one day per month from June 2020 through June 30, 2021, with the option to take all 12 furlough days this month through July 24, 2020.
Full-time faculty of the college who have nine- month contracts will be furloughed only nine days rather than 12.
“This is something I would rather not have ECC be in a position to present,” Bauer said to the board. “By the same token, (ECC has) a responsibility to understand the revenue and make sure (its) expenses are aligned with that.”
ECC has seen a withholding of two months’ worth of state aid. At this time, the college is expecting to see the same loss in revenue at the beginning of the next fiscal year, which starts July 1.
Bauer said the college is projecting a withholding in state aid of $848,352 for the upcoming fiscal year, which he hopes to get more clarity on later this month.
“All employees, including myself and administration, would be included in the furlough,” Bauer said. “This ensures that the response involves all employees instead of selective layoffs.”
During the furlough, all employee insurance benefits will be maintained by ECC.
Bauer also noted that because employees could get a service time of 95 percent of their normal salary, retirement would be unaffected by the furlough.
Employees’ reduced wages would not become the new base level for employees to build any increases going forward in fiscal year 2021-22. ECC would use the salary made before the 5 percent reduction in that fiscal year.
The reason for employees having the option to take all 12 furlough days before July 24 is because they would see enhanced unemployment benefits because the furlough is related to COVID-19.
“ECC recognizes that there are enhanced benefits for those laid off for COVID-19, and ECC wants its employees to have access to those funds,” Bauer explained. “Furlough days after July 24 would not be subject to those benefits.”
He added that the college wants to provide the means for employees to use as many furlough days as possible before July 24, as long as the college is able to provide services to its students.
The furloughs are expected to save the college $433,587 in expenses, which is about half of the withholdings ECC is projecting at the beginning of the next fiscal year. The college’s current hiring freeze will save the college $351,630, leaving $63,135 to be cut in nonpersonnel costs.
As long as there are no additional state reductions and if there are no unforeseen reductions in revenue for ECC, Bauer said this will allow the college to avoid furloughs again in the future.
“During these furloughs, ECC will focus on the quality of teaching, learning and student support,” Bauer said.
Bauer told The Missourian that ECC is currently working on a detailed plan with employees for furloughs.