Budget cuts and buyouts save $3.6 million in president’s plan

Amarillo College has reached its goal of saving $3.5 million as a result of President Dr. Russell Lowey-Hart’s plan of attrition, a voluntary retirement incentive and reduction in force.
Fifty-six faculty and staff members accepted the retirement incentive created by Lowery-Hart and his cabinet members, saving the college a total of $3.6 million. Of those 56 positions, 18 are faculty, 29 are classified employees and nine are administrative positions within the college. There are a total of 92 eliminated positions, 56 from the retirement incentive and 36 from reduction in force. Of those 92 positions, the president and his cabinet decided 26 positions will be redesigned or filled.
“All budget cuts are done, position cuts are completed and we’re ready to move forward and move on,” Lowery-Hart said. What’s not moving forward are the 66 positions decided that no longer will be part of the budget.

Although there will be no more eliminations from the budget, according to the president, the reorganization and reclassification process is pending. “We have 66 positions that will no longer will be functionally part of the college,” Lowery-Hart said. Now the challenge is to redesign positions to make them as effective as possible. Lyndy Forrester, vice president for employee and organizational development, said she sees the process as a major loss of knowledge. “We somehow have to keep going without them, and we need to really focus on a transfer of that knowledge,” Forrester said. One of the faculty members leaving is Lynaé Jacob, department chairwoman of speech and communication. She has taught more than 34 years, dedicating the last 14 to AC. She decided to take the buyout after looking at her retirement numbers. “For me, it was a financially wise decision,” Jacob said.
She will leave after the spring semester.

Jacob has not been told what will happen to her position. “They are reorganizing in many different areas, so they might reorganize the speech department under someone else, they might get a new chair, they might get a coordinator; those are all options,” she said. While her replacement as department chair is yet to be announced, she already has plans for her retirement. “I’m going to learn how to buy and flip a house with my 80-year-old dad,” Jacob said. “That’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but I’ve never had the opportunity.” Lowery-Hart said that from this point forward, he will put his focus on the students. “I’m excited that we got to that point, because we can start focusing on more important things, and that is how we can better serve our students,” he said. Now he said he wants to focus on achieving his goal of having a 70 percent completion rate by 2020.

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