Budget Gap Forces VTC To Cut Six From Staff

Randolph — Vermont Technical College is laying off six employees as part of an attempt to stabilize its finances following year-after-year budget deficits.

The plan, announced last week, aims to improve the school’s budget position by $1.3 million. It includes reducing several employees’ positions from 12-month contracts to 10- and 11-month contracts, making savings through attrition and “closer management of non-performing real estate assets,” according to a news release.

VTC has a budget shortfall of $2.5 million for the current fiscal year, in part because about 100 fewer students than projected are enrolled, reducing revenue from tuition. The college’s annual budget has been roughly $36 million.

“This was an incredibly difficult decision to make. Our people are the backbone of this college,” Dan Smith, who was appointed last month as the college’s interim president, said in the release. “This is frustrating and unfortunate, but necessary as part of a broader strategy to stabilize the college financially. These colleagues have provided loyal service to the College and we are grateful for it.”

The six employees will be paid through their contract end-date of June 30, according to the release, and the school is working to arrange support services for the transition.

Smith was appointed president by the Vermont State Colleges Board of Trustees during a regular meeting April 3, when the expected deficit was announced.

The college announced in March that then-president Philip Conroy, who took the helm in April 2011, would be on paid administrative leave until his retirement Nov. 15. Officials have declined to discuss Conroy’s departure, citing personnel reasons.

In an email to staff, Smith said the college is “looking to reorganize or divest from real estate assets on which the college is losing money.” The Herald of Randolph reported that Smith’s office confirmed last week that the Old Dorm building on the Randolph Center campus will be “closed as a residence hall next year, in another cost-saving measure.”

The Herald also reported that Smith said during the April 3 meeting that the Vermont Tech Small Business Enterprise Center on Route 66 costs the college about $100,000 more than it brings in as revenues.

A college spokeswoman did not respond to an email Thursday with questions about which departments would be affected by the layoffs and which properties are being examined.

In addition to the lower than anticipated enrollment, which Smith pointed to as a cause of the deficit during the April 3 meeting, the news release pointed to “declining numbers of young people in Vermont and the region, the (state’s) chronically low levels of support for public colleges, a clear commitment to keeping tuition affordable for students, and expenses that have increased faster than revenue from enrollment.”

Maggie Cassidy can be reached at mcassidy@vnews.com or 603-727-3220.