CCRI to lay off 45 full-time employees

THE COMMUNITY COLLEGE of Rhode Island announced late Tuesday that it is laying off 45 full-time employees. / COURTESY COMMUNITY COLLEGE OF RHODE ISLAND
THE COMMUNITY COLLEGE of Rhode Island announced late Tuesday that it is laying off 45 full-time employees. / COURTESY COMMUNITY COLLEGE OF RHODE ISLAND

WARWICK – The Community College of Rhode Island announced late Tuesday that it is laying off 45 full-time, nonfaculty employees as a cost-cutting measure, effective Oct. 23.

In a letter to college colleagues, CCRI President Meghan Hughes said the layoffs of classified and nonclassified employees include members of the Educational Support Professional Association, the CCRI Professional Staff Association and nonunion Board of Education employees.

CCRI, along with other colleges, has been hit hard financially due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Hughes said the college saw a $4 million decline in tuition revenue as of Monday than what was originally budgeted. Enrollment at CCRI for the fall declined by 9% from last fall – from 14,775 students to a little more than 13,500 students this year – Hughes said.

Hughes also said CCRI took other measures to find cost savings, such as reducing salaries for senior administration, eliminating 2.5% cost-of-living adjustments for nonunionized board of education employees, implementing hiring freezes, consolidating course offerings and other adjustments. Plus, with the General Assembly not expected to return to session to discuss a new fiscal budget until after the Nov. 3 election and Congress not passing a second stimulus bill, the funding picture is “no clearer today than it was last month,” Hughes said.

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“I deeply regret that these actions could not be avoided,” she added. “These decisions do not reflect upon the abilities or performance of these colleagues, but are based on the college’s immediate operational and financial needs.”

Additionally, Hughes has requested that the R.I. Council on Postsecondary Education approve furloughs equal to a salary reduction of between 3% and 5% for all nonunion Board of Education employees who earn more than $65,000. This request, Hughes said, is in addition to the suspension of 2021 fiscal year COLAs that has already been implemented. Nonunion Board of Education employees who earn less than $65,000 will be exempt from furloughs but not the COLA suspension.

CCRI is the second state college in less than two weeks to announce layoffs. Rhode Island College President Frank D. Sanchez on Sept. 9 announced that 35 union employees would be permanently laid off.

James Bessette is the PBN special projects editor, and also covers the nonprofit and education sectors. You may reach him at Bessette@PBN.com. You may also follow him on Twitter at @James_Bessette.

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