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LBCC’s Horticulture Program To Be Eliminated Due To Shrinking Budget

Students and staff found out this week that LBCC has plans to eliminate its Horticulture and Crop Production department and major.

LBCC Vice President of Academic and Workforce Anne Buchele discussed the proposed elimination of LBCC’s Horticulture and Crop Production department on Thursday.

“We are going through a variety of budget reductions,” said Buchele, “and we need to cut $800,000 [from the general budget] this year and $800,000 next year. We have a variety of reductions and everyone has not been identified yet but in looking at the data [we recommended] the Horticulture program for reduction.”

“We look at enrollment, graduation rates, and what the graduate would be able to do out in the labor force. It’s a decision to get to the reduction amount that we needed for this year,” she said.

The LBCC Board of Education’s next meeting is on Wednesday March 20 at 6 p.m. in the Calapooia Center, Room 103. The meeting starts at 6 p.m.  Citizens who want to comment on the proposed suspension of the Horticulture and Crop Production Program or anything else at LBCC can sign in at the meeting at 5:40 p.m.

Buchele said that there is at least a $100,000 savings accomplished by eliminating the Horticulture and Crop Production Department. “It is a $251,000 program, and it’s one full-time faculty and one classified position and they would be let go the following year,” said Buchele.  This would mean that current Horticulture and Crop Production students would be taught out through Spring 2020 but no new students would be taken on.

“If we lost all the students in the Hort Program, [and] we are not sure that would happen, then there would still be $100,000 savings; there could be more savings if students stayed.”

Typical classes taught in the Horticulture and Crop Production program include Landscape Materials I, also known as Tree Identification, Soil: Sustainable Systems, Irrigation, and Organic Farming and Gardening.

Regarding the state cuts that engendered this proposal and other cuts, she said, “We are already lean, our board members, our state legislators, our [LBCC] president are working hard at the state level to urge more in the community college fund.”

“I hate that it has to be all on the backs of students; you know, I’m from Ohio and we have a sales tax there,” said Buchele. Buchele sees in Oregon’s proposed budget cuts for higher education, signs that Oregon has not found a stable way of funding higher education.

Buchele was in her office on Thursday afternoon finishing up the day’s work and was able to meet and discuss the recent announcement by President Greg Hamann that LBCC is moving ahead to suspend the Horticulture and Crop Production Department at LBCC.

President Hamann’s formal announcement of all proposed cuts or reductions to LBCC departments will be emailed out to concerned people by the end of the day on Friday, March 15. This is a hard week said Buchele, noting that Horticulture is not the only department affected by proposed cuts.

Buchele said that cuts in program and staffing are ultimately President Hamann’s decision based on recommendations from the LBCC Budget Team, which is made up of LBCC staff VP of Operations Dave Henderson, Buchele, Jess Jacobs, Director of Accounting and Budget, and Margi Dusek, Manager of Accounting and Budget.

The team looks at the budget ramifications, makes the recommendations to President Hamann, and he decides on the cuts, said Buchele. Buchele said that the Budget Team did talk about what the impact of losing the Horticulture and Crop Production Department would be on the larger community, but she did not have any comment on the details of that conversation.

According to Buchele, the programmatic decisions of President Hamann are guided by the LBCC Budget Team, and those decisions are in turn guided by the big picture laid out by the LBCC Board of Education’s Budget Committee.

If the state budget cuts were found to be less severe, it is the LBCC Board of Education Budget Committee that would guide what the priorities would be, and President Hamann and his staff would make the specific decisions to carry out those priorities.

At this coming Wednesday’s meeting, the Board of Education’s comment period will be followed by board and campus reports, information on PERS, and votes on two resolutions: a proposed 7 percent tuition increase and a construction contract for seismic retrofit projects.

The LBCC Board will officially approve the overall budget in June.

Story by Karen Canan

At a Glance:

When: Wednesday, March 20 at 6 p.m. in CC-103

What: LBCC Board of Education open for comments.

Why: Citizens interested in commenting on the proposed elimination of the LBCC Horticulture and Crop Production Department can sign in at 5:40 pm. Comment times are each limited at the discretion of the board chair and are typically 3 minutes long.

Full Disclosure: The author of this article is a member of the LBCC Horticulture Club.

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