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ECC cutting staff, from senior management to probationary workers

File Photo / WBFO News

In the last decade, Erie Community College has lost 46% of its enrollment and still hired people. Now faced with millions of dollars of deficit and holdback of millions of dollars by Albany because of COVID-19, ECC is making significant cuts in its staff, from senior management to probationary workers.

The college has tried early retirement incentives for faculty and administrators, and expanded that this year to incentives for people lower on the academic food chain. It hasn't been enough.

Interim President William Reuter said no teachers are going in this round, but some had already taken that retirement incentive. The president said a problem is that student loss is across the board, meaning it is hard to single out one program perhaps for cuts.

However, Reuter said the enrollment drop is everywhere.

"Pretty much across the board, pretty much across the campuses, pretty much across all we track by higher education," he said. "So we have first-time, full-time, transfer, every market that we track is down, some more than others. Our transfer numbers and our high school numbers are significantly less than what we had projected."

That is the program that lets high school kids accumulate college credit.

Reuter said enrollment is down 17% just this academic year, in part because of COVID-19 and in part because the local college-age population is shrinking.

"We are seeing significant decline in the high school student population that's graduating in Erie County and Western New York," he said. "Erie County's our largest feeder -- 92% of our students come from Erie County -- and the numbers coming out of the high schools are down, thus our enrollment is suffering, as well."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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