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'These are tough decisions'

Job cuts, selling Kempenfelt Centre part of Georgian College restructuring
A fresh crop of Georgian College students get ready to graduate. File photo Sue Sgambati/BarrieToday

"Restructuring moves" at Georgian College include cutting seven full-time administrative staff, reassigning teaching faculty and selling the Kempenfelt Conference Centre in Innisfil. 

The College says restructuring announced Thursday along with short-and long-term investments will save $7-million to balance the 2017-18 budget.

"These are tough decisions," said President and CEO MaryLynn West-Moynes.

“Georgian, like all colleges, faces a significant shortfall in funding that has lagged behind inflation for many years." 

West-Moynes says the college has been successful in identifying a large number of redundancies but those individuals will be repositioned into other work.

Georgian has 3,500 full and part time employees at this time of the year.

"There will not be any full time support staff leaving our organization. We do however anticipate there will be losses of part-time support and faculty," she said. 

The number of those job losses is not known yet because it's "too early to understand the impact," according to West-Moynes.

Changes to 'many' faculty schedules and assignments will be implemented to maximize classroom time.

Beginning this year, approximately 70 full-time faculty members will teach during the spring/summer session. 

New classes will be created. Programs will be realigned to accommodate additional classes for popular programs with significant wait lists.

Another $2.2 million in savings and revenue will come from service areas, including contract negotiations with external vendors such as cleaning and print contracts, savings on utility costs from upgraded lighting and infrastructure and a two percent increase in parking pass rates.

The college will cease operating the Kempenfelt Centre at the end of October. 

“This was an extremely difficult decision,” says West-Moynes. “However, the college’s core business is educating students and that is where we need to focus our time and resources. To be competitive, the Kempenfelt Centre requires capital investment that Georgian is not in a position to make. A new owner will be able to bring new life to this beautiful property.”

Georgian will honour all bookings and accept new bookings within this timeframe.

While a number of full-time support staff positions are also affected, all full-time support staff will be offered reassignment based on seniority. The terms of the appropriate collective agreements are being followed.

Georgian's President says the college is still on track to move the Design and Visual Arts programs to downtown Barrie  and will be able to proceed with other initiatives because of the streamlining.  

"We're going to invest in a number of technology labs. We've also made the decision to run additional culinary arts programs. I'm feeling this is a very positive move forward for the organization," she said.

"The message that I'm trying to get across is that it's no secret in Ontario that colleges are feeling financial pressure," said West-Moynes. "Those pressures are now upon us in a way that in order to make sure we're still doing a quality job with our students we simply have to do some restructuring."

West-Moynes says she understands the public's concern about possible hefty pay raises to college executives recently posted on Georgian's website. 

"There was a range posted whereby administrators would get no raise or up to a large raise.  I can just assure the public that the college had no intention of going to the high level of those wages," said West-Moynes.

"We totally understand that even though administrators' salaries have been frozen for, some of us seven years, that we have to be respectful of what's going on in our organization."