Highline College To Cut Federal Way Campus + 44 Jobs

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Highline Community College administrators announced Friday their decision on how to deal with the college’s $2.1 million financial hit necessitated by Gov. Chris Gregoire new budget cuts:

  • Closing their Federal Way branch campus (map below)
  • Closing the Early Childhood Learning Center, the college’s childcare center for students

These closures, along with reductions within individual program areas, will mean the elimination of 44 full-time positions.

These cuts go into effect July 1st.

“The downturn in the economy has hit home, and the college must make difficult choices to address the shortfall in the state’s budget,” said Highline President Dr. Jack Bermingham. “We are committed to preserving core functions, yet will significantly scale back selected services and offerings. Our number one goal with these cuts is to protect instructional capacity, maintain core student services and sustain the essential administrative infrastructure of the Highline.”

Highline’s Federal Way campus offers basic skills and non-credit business courses. It is also home to the Puget Sound Early College (PSEC), a dual-enrollment credit cohort program for high school juniors and seniors.

“We are committed to serving the Federal Way community,” said Bermingham. “In conversations with Federal Way city officials, we are working together to find ways to continue to provide services in Federal Way.

In the future, as the economy recovers and the College receives additional resources, we hope to find another facility more centrally located, and better served by public transportation. ”

College officials will hold two community forums on the Federal Way campus. For PSEC students and parents, the forum is scheduled for Feb. 4 at 7 p.m. A second forum for the community is scheduled for Feb. 11 at 7 p.m.

While the Governor reduced budgets, she did not decrease Highline’s full-time equivalent student target. This means Highline must serve the same number of students with considerably less funding. As a result, students will encounter larger classes, fewer course choices and less convenient class locations.

“There is a growing demand for our services,” said Jeff Wagnitz, vice president of Instruction. “The economic downturn and resulting layoffs mean more people are looking to us for retraining. Highline has had record enrollments, but the college has struggled to meet this demand. Fewer resources next year will exacerbate student access. ”

Since the first signs of the economic downturn last year, hiring at the college has been carefully scrutinized. Of the 44 positions eliminated, seven were vacant. In making these decisions, Highline officials say they have tried to make cuts that would minimize impact on students.

“Highline is a strong institution,” said Bermingham, “and we are hopeful for a turnaround in the state’s economy. These measures will ensure that we continue to prepare our state’s workforce for the jobs of today and tomorrow to restore stability and prosperity. Highline Community College will remain a key resource for the state’s economic recovery and is clearly essential in providing higher education and training for our community.”

Highline Community College was founded in 1961 as the first community college in King County. With approximately 10,000 students and 350,000 alumni, it is one of the state’s largest institutions of higher education. The college offers a wide range of academic transfer and professional-technical education programs, with day, evening, online and weekend classes.

With the most diverse population of any college in Washington State, Highline takes a multicultural approach to education for the success of all its students and the prosperity of its surrounding communities. Alumni include former Seattle Mayor Norm Rice, entrepreneur Junki Yoshida and Washington state poet laureate Sam Green.

More information at their website.

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