Student services impacted by retirement, enrollment

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Low enrollment remains an issue for the spring semester, which has prompted cuts to services impacting students.

Students are seeing the effects, especially in Auxiliary Services.

What used to be out the door and wrapped around the library, the line for the bookstore during rush has gotten shorter over the years.

“The lines at the bookstore during rush should be longer than they are now,” according to Fidel Cabuena II, Director of Auxiliary Services. “This last rush I didn’t see that much line or traffic that we normally get.”

One reason the lines at the bookstore are shorter is because students are ordering books online from other resources such as Amazon, Cabuena said.
Fewer students means fewer services.

Danner Hall recently stopped serving hot grilled lunch. The location only serves breakfast from the grill now.

Delta students like Vanessa Lopez aren’t happy about Danner Hall this semester.

“I like Delta College and I like the programs that they have, I like the campus,” said Lopez. “However, the availability of food now kind of sucks. And because of the budget cuts too, there’s nowhere to get food.”

“Students such as nurses who take night classes at 6 p.m. have no other options other than vending machines, unable to go off campus when they have limited time in between classes,” said Lopez.

Delta isn’t the only college going through this, according to Toni Sommer, Interim Vice President of Administrative Services. “There are some changes that are happening to community colleges in California.”

“One of the ones thats happened here is we did something that’s called a SERP. Basically what it was, it was an offer that we made to qualify employees who had worked here for a number of years and different qualifications that they could take a retirement and get a incentive, and the incentive was annuity.”

There were 47 employees that took the SERP and left in December, leaving holes in staffing in things such as food services.

Four members retired in food services.

“Now we have some major holes in our staffing and no control where those holes happened,” Sommer said. “It’s whoever qualified and who applied. So for example, as a result of that program, I have a department now with absolutely no managers. I had 60 percent of the staff of the food services retire and by union contracts, we cannot fill those positions with part timers.”

The college can hold on to some of the parttime workers but cannot accept more.

“We’re trying to deal with the staff we have,” Sommer said. “The college has been told that we cannot replace them all because it was done to save $2.5 million out of the budget.”

According to an estimate by Sommer, a pension reform is being pushed by the state towards the employer contribution, meaning that next year, the general funds Delta has to pay in pensions will increase by $1.3 million.

Dr. Lisa Cooper Wilkins, Assistant Superintendent and Vice President of Student Services, said the school is aware of how students are feeling about the cuts and closing of services.

“I’m excited about what Dr. (Kathy) Hart is trying to do in terms of making things better for students and always challenging us to ask if the decisions we’re making are good for students, and sort of start that way,” said Cooper Wilkins.

One of the things students can expect to see in a couple of months is a new website and a student information system.

“It’s not lost on the institution that students would like more food options, faculty and staff had said the same thing. And it’s a real complicated answer as to why it’s been hard to do that, but I know it’s something that they’re really trying to work on,” said Cooper Wilkins.