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49 faculty and staff members take buyout offers at Erie Community College

Buyout offers at Erie Community College have prompted the retirements of 49 faculty and staff members, college officials said Thursday.

The college will spend nearly $1.8 million on the incentives, in anticipation of considerable salary and health care savings.

The buyout offers accompanied recent contract ratifications between the college and two of its largest bargaining units.

Buyouts of a half-year’s salary were extended to employees whose combined age and years of service at the college totaled at least 75 for administrators and 80 for faculty.

“Yes, we’ve lost some very good people. But we’re trying to control costs into the future and make some inroads into health care costs,” said William Reuter, ECC’s chief financial officer.

The college currently has a budget deficit, largely due to ballooning health care costs and a declining enrollment that has squeezed its main source of revenue, tuition.

Eligible faculty and staff had until Tuesday to let the college know if they will take the buyout and retire by Jan. 4.

Thirty-six faculty members took the offer, along with 12 administrative employees, and one member of the senior executive staff. Their combined salaries would have cost the college $3.8 million in 2016.

It’s unclear how many of the faculty will be immediately replaced, although new hires would still come with cost savings because they likely would start at a significantly smaller salary.

The retirements represent about 8 percent of the college’s workforce, Reuter said. Among those retiring are two assistant academic deans, a dean of students and two department heads.

“It’s a huge turnover for us,” said ECC President Jack Quinn. “We’re losing a wealth of knowledge and experience at this college.”

Erie County is contributing $2 million to help the college cover costs associated with the new contracts.