By Kathryn Kelman/editor-in-chief
In February, a NE staff member was notified that her last day would be Aug. 31.
Career and technical education student support specialist Debra Krebs has worked at TCC for 27 years and said she was blindsided when she learned she was being terminated.
“The reason given was that these positions are grant-funded,” she said. “And for this coming year, there was no budget for staff.”
The other five people who do Krebs’ job on the other TCC campuses had their positions included in TCC’s budget.
In the past, Krebs was assured if the grant funding stopped, all of their positions would be incorporated into campus budgets, she said.
“The manager of the grant last fall assured us no one would lose their job, which was why I was blindsided when I got called in and told I was losing my job,” she said.
Because the grant funding had gone away, Krebs assumed all of the other advisors funded by the Perkins Grant were also being let go, but in May, she learned she was the only one, she said.
Academic affairs vice chancellor Nancy Cure said each campus was involved in reviewing how the money from the Perkins Grant was being spent.
“The Perkins Grant is a federal grant to support CTE programs,” she said. “The goal of this grant is to increase the completion of career and technical students.”
The coordinating board told them the number of salaries being covered by the grant was too high, and the college needed to reduce it, she said.
“So at that point in time, we began to work with the campuses to look at the positions that were on the grant,” she said.
It was an intentional review to reduce the number of positions covered by the grant for TCC to continue to be compliant with the grant, she said.
“For the past two years, we’ve been looking to reduce that,” Cure said.
The campuses then looked into their need for the position, and each campus had the choice to remove the position or use money in their budget to cover the position, she said.
Some campuses determined the position was needed, and others decided to get rid of it, she said.
“There has to be an existing position in their budget or get approval from the district to add the position to their budget,” Cure said.
The decision to get rid of or keep the position was mostly a campus decision, she said.
Krebs said others not on the grant were let go due to restructuring and were given less notice. She could retire, but her colleagues did not have that option, she said.
“TCC has never, to our knowledge, just cut people before,” Krebs said. “Some people are let go for cause, but to just lay off people like that, I don’t know of any other time that has happened.”
Krebs wishes TCC had been more up front with personnel about what was happening, she said.
“This isn’t about me because I can retire,” she said. “It’s about those who will be left unemployed. It’s about transparency and ethics and accountability.”
NE president Allen Goben said the campus hasn’t lost any positions due to restructuring.
“All I can tell you is what I’m doing in my area,” he said. “We have a few positions we’re adding this year that are approved in our new budget, but I’m not aware of any other positions we’re changing or anything else.”
Krebs said the other advisors laid off didn’t want to speak because they feared the consequences for their career.
“I am disappointed in the direction TCC appears to be going,” she said. “This is a really ugly way to end my career.”