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Giving time to solve budget crunch, faculty union says programs including Seattle Central’s Culinary Academy and Apparel Design and Development school will remain open through fall

The Apparel Design and Development will be among the programs funded through next fall (Image: Seattle Central)

The labor union representing faculty at Seattle Colleges says the system’s Culinary Academy, Maritime Academy, Wood Technology, PACT, and Apparel Design and Development school will remain open through the fall quarter buying the important programs much needed time to secure long term funding amid a growing budget crunch.

“Sustainable funding still needs to be secured for these programs for 2023 and beyond,” the statement posted Wednesday night by AFT Seattle reads. “Faculty & Staff at Seattle Colleges are still demanding fair wages and transparency when decisions about programs are made. The fight’s not over yet!”

CHS reported here on the falling enrollment and dipping budget forecasts faced by the college system that includes Capitol Hill’s Seattle Central. Total enrollment of full time students in the Seattle College’s three campus system fell to just over 15,000 in the 2019-2020 school year continuing a longer term pattern that has seen full-time enrollment drop 15% in five years. Seattle Central’s lucrative international student enrollment has also cratered. The schools won’t close — “In my 24 years in the state of Washington, no community college in the system has closed its doors,” a spokesperson told CHS — but they could see major cutbacks.

A budget committee working to set recommendations to help the colleges overcome the budget shortfalls had been expected to release its proposals on the popular programs. The faculty union says the school’s administration has recommended cuts.

With forecasts showing Seattle Central on track to lose nearly $10 million in the 2021-2022 school year under the previous budget and policies, school officials are considering strategies including growing enrollment, cutting 15% of administration, — and “restoring” class size by reducing the number of classes offered and available instructors and by cutting its two-year vocational programs.

Wednesday, students and faculty held a march to raise awareness and to call on the school to keep the programs alive.

The new reprieve buys time for the programs and schools to jockey for state and system funding while also seeking outside support. Seattle Central’s Seattle Culinary Academy has an 80-year history and produces talent that powers kitchens across Capitol Hill, the city, and the country. The program is popular — and successful, boasting a 97% job placement rate — “We say more than 100%, because our students are being offered multiple jobs,” a representative told the Seattle TImes.

Other cutbacks and closures could hit the Wood Technology Center in the Central District at 23rd and Lane. The center offers training in the building trades including programs in residential carpentry and boat building and repair.

Seattle Central’s Apparel Design & Development program is also at risk.

The Broadway school is moving forward, meanwhile, with plans for campus growth including a new technology building.

 

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DownWithIt
DownWithIt
1 month ago

Why would they even consider cutting these programs that are training people with real skills that are in demand by employers? Or was this just a stunt to force the hand of the budget people by pretending they’d have to cut these easy-to-understand programs?

Reality
Reality
1 month ago

The city and state have pissed away billions to fund homeless organizations with no oversight that have grown the problem to become the worst in the nation per capita despite spending more. Now there is nothing left in the general fund to support fundamental programs at state colleges.

Alex
Alex
1 month ago

At least one of the wood tech programs (Architectural Woodworking) has stopped taking in new students (the last cohort may have been over a year ago!) and I’ve heard it’s because SCC won’t hire a full-time, non-adjunct professor to run it once the current professor retires.

Never mind that our region is going through a housing crisis and desperately needs to train a new workforce to build more housing…

Nomnom
Nomnom
1 month ago

It’s idiotic to cut programs that train people in, you know, skills. But for the Apparel Design program, if the school can’t find funding then maybe Nordstrom, Eddie Bauer, REI, Zulily, Tommy Bahama, and the dozens of other clothing manufacturers in Seattle that hire graduates of this program need to step up and fund the one remaining relevant fashion design program left in the city. Just a thought.

Nic
Nic
1 month ago

It is beyond absurd to cut these programs! Programs with long-standing success aimed at graduating skilled people ready to contribute to their communities should be FUNDED in a city with so much wealth.

Education is perpetually underfunded and this is an egregious example of that. What an embarrassing shame! Do better, Seattle!

Atan
Atan
1 month ago

On my Facebook it looks like what I could see from a Seattle Times posting although not much because I don’t subscribe to the Times but with comments it seems like the Culinary Arts / Baking program was saved by community support ?

RainWorshipper
RainWorshipper
1 month ago
Reply to  Atan

The Seattle Times article says that the program was saved from cutting for now, and will continue for the fall session and hopefully beyond, so it’s not saved yet, just temporarily on reprieve.

KKC
KKC
1 month ago
Reply to  RainWorshipper

The problem is bigger than a fiscal injection. The school has an Interim Chancellor (elected by the State), Interim President, and Interim Vice President that are all on their way out at the end of the year. Yes, money is crucial for short term revitalization but longevity depends on a stable administration that is going to value Trades and Academia.