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Salary freeze proposed for King's

Faculty at the Town Hall Jan 28. (Photo: Jesse Laufer)

A new draft proposal suggests freezing salaries for some King’s faculty and staff. A task force struck to find potential solutions to the financial problems at King’s presented these ideas to the community Wednesday.

Its report suggests staff at a low wage would not see the wage freeze, although that exact level has yet to be determined. Also excluded from the proposed salary freeze would be unionized faculty, as well as Carnegie professors.
Carnegie professors are faculty King’s pays to teach at Dalhousie, according to King’s history webpage, and contribute to the King’s community. This is part of a longstanding partnership between the two schools, dating back to when King’s in Windsor burned down and the Carnegie Foundation helped pay for King’s to rebuild and associate with Dalhousie. Well-known professor Wayne Hankey, for example, falls under this agreement. The wage freeze proposal, said the report, is for a maximum of two years.
The report also suggests eliminating session staff in the humanities. In November, rumored layoffs of sessional professors – three in particular – sparked a letter writing campaign headed by the student union. Vice president Kim Kierans told the Watch that the rumour of specific cuts was founded in miscommunication at a faculty meeting.
These ideas, the salary freeze and sessional layoffs, would save the school $300,000 for the 2015-16 fiscal year, said the presenters.
The largest area of potential savings, however, was a suggested overall five per cent cut to the budget, freeing up an estimated $561,000 next year, according to the report.
“We need to reduce our expenses by approximately $1.4 million in 2015-16,” said the report. “If we don’t, the College’s deficit will increase by another $500,000 in each subsequent fiscal year.”

 The school’s financial woes stem largely from lower enrolment and lack of government funding over the last few years, it said.

The task force committee was started to analyse these issues and find solutions, with this most recent report combining meetings since mid-December. The force is comprised of 13 members, including Kierans, president George Cooper, as well as faculty, staff, student and board representatives.
The report brings even more surprises. King’s has discovered roughly $2.28 million, it said, in endowment and investment lines. The money is a result of “past internal restrictions related to items not including general operations,” according to the report. The school could use those funds to lessen the amount of cuts this upcoming year. However, most of the conversation in the report and during the town hall centered around how to invest those funds in ways which could lead the college to become financially prosperous in the long-term.
The five per cent budget cut garnered discussion. Daniel Brandes, the Foundation Year Programme director, noted during the town hall that a five per cent cut to FYP would amount to around $80,000. That’s a seventh of the amount the school hopes to save with the cuts. The task force previously discussed cuts of 10 or 15 per cent, but according to the report, decided that would hurt the King’s experience.
“There are units and programs that cannot sustain even a five per cent cut, others that can cope with more,” it said, so even the five per cent cut might not be implemented across the board.
Also proposed are energy retrofits and renovations to school facilities. The draft report said the school should see returns on those types of investments almost immediately, which director of facilities Alex Doyle supported during the town hall.
The task force meets again Jan. 30 to discuss the feedback received during the town hall. Its final interim report is due out Feb. 3.

By David J. Shuman

David is the current editor-in-chief of The Watch and writes on student issues and events. Find him on Twitter: @DavidJShuman

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