News Local

College makes structural change

Bob Bruton

By Bob Bruton, Barrie Examiner

Georgian College has tightened its belt to balance the books.

The Barrie-based college is laying off administrators, reassigning teaching faculty and will sell Kempenfelt Conference Centre to help make up an $8.6-million shortfall this year on its now-balanced $195-million-plus budget.

“We've made good decisions to sustain our future,” said MaryLynn West-Moynes, Georgian's president and CEO. “There are a number of moving parts in this, but one of the things that we wanted to do in this structure change was flatten the organization.”

Seven full-time administration jobs will be lost – three effective April 1, another four when Kempenfelt Conference Centre closes.

A number of full-time support staff positions are also affected, but they will be offered reassignment based on seniority – as per the terms of the appropriate collective agreements.

“Some of those reassignments will inevitably impact our part-time employees,” said West-Moynes.

There will also be a change of assignment for many faculty.

Beginning this year, approximately 70 full-time faculty members will teach during the spring/summer session. New classes will be created and programs will be realigned to accommodate additional classes for popular programs with significant wait lists.

Ontario Public Services Employees Union (OPSEU) Local 350 represents 278 full-time faculty and 299 part-time faculty at Georgian. An additional 368 faculty members teach on a part-time basis and are not members of the faculty union.

“Local 350 has expressed and will continue to express concerns about how these structural changes will affect students and the quality of education delivered at the college,” said Terry Heittola, president of Local 350.

“The structural changes will result in the reduction of librarian positions and significant changes to teaching assignments for both full and part-time faculty members,” he said.

Georgian has started the process of selling Kempenfelt Conference Centre, located on Lake Simcoe in Innisfil. The college assumed its operation from the province in 1981; while it operated successfully for many years, the centre has been a money-loser for the last decade – anywhere from $50,000 to more than $200,000 annually.

West-Moynes said there were a number of attempts to right the ship, and that five different scenarios were looked at, but with no success.

“In the end, we just couldn't come up with something that would be a good use for the students, and it's been losing money,” she said. “We decided its was time to move to our core business, which is providing programs and services, not offering a conference centre facility.”

The 40-year-old facility also needs substantial capital investment to be a competitive conference centre.

Georgian will continue to operate the centre until the end of October. It will honour all bookings and accept new bookings until then.

The college said its restructuring moves, along with short- and long-term investments, will save $7-million to balance the 2017-18 budget.

Of that total, $2.2 million in savings and revenue will come from service areas, such as contract negotiations with external vendors, like cleaning and print contracts, savings on utility costs from upgraded lighting and infrastructure and departmental changes in work processes, reducing spending on supplies and materials.

There will also be a 2% increase in parking pass fees, consistent with the rate of inflation.

Provincial funding for Ontario college operating costs has decreased each year since 2007-2008.

Georgian's budget pressures have been compounded by losing the small, northern rural grant, declining demographics of youths age 18 to 24 in Simcoe and Grey counties at rates greater than the provincial average, and Laurentian University’s withdrawal from the Barrie campus last year.

Of Georgian's $195 million-plus annual budget, 50% of the funding comes from the province, 30% is from students' tuition and 20% is from ancillary operations - food, parking, book store, selling training to business and industry, etc.

Georgian College has 3,500 employees and about 12,000 students at this time of the year at its Barrie, Orillia, Midland, Collingwood, Owen Sound, Orangeville and Bracebridge campuses.

Georgian College: Investments For the Future

*New programs relevant to the needs of employers including a biotechnology-health diploma, paralegal graduate certificate and bachelor of engineering (electrical) degree with electrical engineering technology advanced diploma.

*Capital investments will be made in program areas that support enrolment growth with two new computer assisted design labs, two new bring-your-own-device labs, larger capacity classrooms, and machine shop equipment to support engineering and computer science programs.

*Further growth areas include international education, a new advanced technology, innovation and research centre, and the development of new Georgian degrees and joint degree-diplomas in partnership with Lakehead University.

Source: Georgian College


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