Pierce Pioneer

Pierce College Facing Budget Cuts Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic

Ciara Williams , Staff  Illustration

As the 2020-2021 school year approaches, Pierce College prepares for potential budget cuts due to a wide state fund decline.

On May 11, Pierce College Chancellor Michele Johnson sent out a mass email stating that Pierce College will be experiencing budget cuts in the 2020-2021 school year. As a response, the college is preparing a budget development process that is taking place over the next few months.

Pierce College braces for budget cuts as high as 20 percent. While that percent only accounts for less than half of Pierce’s revenue, according to Johnson, that still is a 10 percent reduction, adding up to around $6 million.

“This work will be difficult and unfortunately, painful,” Johnson stated. “There is no way to handle revenue declines of this magnitude without pain. Departments throughout the college will need to rethink and retool their entire operation.”

Along with Pierce College, multiple other state agencies could face general fund reductions of 15 to 20 percent or higher. This is due to a large decline in Washington State’s general fund revenue. 

“Currently, state officials and legislators are still trying to understand the full extent of the issue,” Johnson stated. “But preliminary forecasting by the state’s Economic and Revenue Forecast Council points to a very large decline in revenue that started in March and could continue for several years.”

Pierce College has made a temporary plan, in hopes of getting the college’s budget through the summer and parts of fall. “Over the next few weeks, the Budget Team and the Budget Planning Groups will be working on ideas and concepts to build a temporary spending plan to present to the Board of Trustees in June,” Johnson stated. “The proposed budget will be reviewed by the District Cabinet and presented to the Board of Trustees in October for approval.”

The Budget Team is currently formed around large groups of departments and divisions throughout the district, including Instruction, Student Services, Self-Support Programs, Facilities/Safety, and Institutional Support Services, as stated by Johnson.

Many questions still remain, such as what departments will be affected by these budget cuts the most, as well as programs or student resources. However, as the months go by, Johnson assures staff that Pierce will continue to answer questions and address the situation.

“The Budget Team and college leadership will continue to share information, involve constituents, and be open and transparent in this process.”

4 Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint on a Budget

Being environmentally cautious can be pricey, but fortunately there are a few ways that you can help

The health and wellbeing of the planet is a current hot topic that has people asking what they can do to make a difference. But if you’re on a budget, doing this can be difficult. Below is a list of four things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint. Just doing one of these can make an environmental difference.

Recycling and Reusing

Recycling doesn’t make as big of a difference as people think, as it doesn’t do much for reducing waste. However, when you save and reuse objects, as well as give unwanted items a new life, then it makes a bigger difference than recycling does by itself. For example, objects such as jars and old shirts can be used for things like storing food or making shirts into a shopping bag and reusable makeup wipes.


Buy things used, doing this can save you money and save plastic products from making its way into landfills earlier than needed. Join groups like BuyNothing on Facebook and post your unneeded things for others to have and ask for thing you need. People tend to have things laying around that they don’t need and giving them to others save it from being thrown out.

Sharing / Renting

Share clothes, movies, games and other things with your friends and family, or even rent them. This way you can save money while also reducing the amount of plastic products you buy. You have a pair of shoes that just sit in your closet, let your friend that has a party to go to borrow them, now they are getting some use out for them and saving your friend from buying a new pair.

Buy Reusable Replacements

Save up to replace your one use plastic products, replace your razor with a safety razor and replace Saran Wrap with bees wax cloth and use solid soaps in place of bottled soap. Find ways to reduce your everyday plastic waste and after paying for a reusable produce you’ll eventually save money by not having to buy one use plastic products.

If you can not do some of these things do not beat yourself up for it, everyone has different circumstances that may contribute to not being able to meet their minimal waste goals. Even just supporting companies and elected officials that want to make a difference helps. Do what you can with what you have, future generations will thank you for it.

Abri Wilson / Staff Illustrator

Citizenship shutdown

Neal Curtis-Duguay Staff Writer

As the average citizen may know, the government has refused to agree on a national budget for the new fiscal year. Politicians of every party have been feeling a little hot under the collar for their lack of decision-making, earning them criticism, complaints, and a general lack of faith from the public. Before one decides to join in the fun of pointing fingers, they ought to take a step back and consider: Is the shutdown the fault of the politicians?

Examining the governmental system is the primary step in discovering the source of the shutdown and key to understanding the issue. Running a bipartisan government, according to historical patterns, is the optimal and only method for running a country the size of the United States. It is efficient, effective, and has little to no flaws. Two parties in complete opposition with no room for compromise or a neutral party to mediate has proven to be the only possible way to run a government.

The government shutdown isn’t caused by lack of political performance and cooperation, but the sacred bond between the politician and the people. Their efforts reach far beyond the norm, a grand-stand performance from our virtuous leaders. They stand for us, they stand for what’s right. They will allow the government, the economy, even the country to fall before they betray the trust of the people.

No matter the cause, no matter the issue, they will stand for the ones they were elected by to represent. There is no room for compromise, only fulfilling the political agenda the politicians hold for their people. Working together is treachery; only with their party can a politician stand and defend the rights of the public through his social contract.

So how can you, the average citizen, affect the outcome of the future and prevent another shutdown caused by the voting public? Speak out and let your voice be heard. The politicians listen to the cries of each and every citizen and act in the interests of the people. Nothing screams democracy more than workers working without pay, and politicians paid for defending their votes our rights.

student services budget gives money to athletic program

Lloyd Shisler
Staff Writer

Student Services and Activities Budget [S and A] is a budget that supports and funds Pierce programs such as athletics, tutoring, theater, pioneer, writers studio, music program and many more.

Cameron Cox, director for student life, mentioned that Pierce’s tuition was raised last year at 12 percent. Instead of the S and A committee voting and deliberating on how much the budget should be, they decided to raise the percentage budget to 12 percent.

The S and A committee usually votes on budgets for most programs such as arts, newspapers, and student life.  If a program needs a specific resource, then those in charge apply to the school for the approval of money from the budget to be spent on that programs request.

Cox said, “Students on the committee did a great job on the budget.” The committee was able to support all the requested programs.

Duncan Stevenson, director for the athletics program, said there’s a lot of things that this budget will affect positively for the sports programs. This extra money will increase how much the coaches will get paid, help with the team’s travel expenses, pay for basic catastrophe insurance for athletes who hurt themselves in sports related injuries, pay staff that help run the games such as; certified officials that are contracted, game management staff, and athletic training services staff that have certified medical knowledge to support games.

Stevenson said that the budget covers all six sports’ operating budgets.  He was excited and appreciative that the S and A budget is able to support the programs here at Pierce.

The athletic program has been trying to bring women’s soccer to Pierce for 15 years. The college applied twice within the 15 years and was rejected both times, while this time the budget allowed for a women’s soccer team.

The student government went to Stevenson to inquire about the process of adding a new team. Between them, they were able to put together the application to apply for a new sports program. After looking at the budget, they both were confident that the Board of Trustees would approve the team.

If the women’s soccer team gets approved for this fall, the team will get a budget of 28,135 dollars. The budget will start giving out 10,718 dollars towards a new program for athletic scholarships. The athletic program received 15,151 dollars more than last year’s budget.

“On behalf of the student-athletes and coaches of Raider Athletics, we are very grateful for the funding provided by the S&A committees from both campuses to support the teams for next year.  Our program would not exist if weren’t for the funding from the student’s S&A budget.  We are very excited to finally have the opportunity to bring women’s soccer to Pierce College.  It will be a great addition to our program offerings,” said Stevenson.

speaking of speakers

Having an Artists and Speakers Series budget will benefit the student body greatly. Many top universities get speakers to come to their schools and speak about their lives or social issues they specialize in. The speaker our student government acquired, Annie Leonard, will teach about the making of stuff and how it impacts the environment.

It is important to understand how the making of things such as water bottles or plastic bags affects the planet. The student body can get a lot out of what Leonard has to say. Hopefully people will take what they learn and teach others, or apply it to their everyday life like they would with any normal class they take.

Maybe the student government will be able to acquire more speakers to talk about important issues with next year’s budget, if it’s renewed. It might also make a difference if more people attend and express interest.

Students should always take the opportunity to learn more and go to events such as this. They are fun and provide knowledge on topics they sometimes won’t learn about in classes.

To learn more about Leonard and her efforts or watch the video ‘The Story of Stuff’ go to www.storyofstuff.com

targeting tuition

Valerie Ettenhofer
Staff Writer

It’s likely impossible to find a state budget that fits the interests of all groups, but this year college students in particular are facing a double-edged sword.

The budget for next year will be formed out of proposals negotiated by the state Senate, House of Representatives and Governor Jay Inslee. This year, each budget proposal leaves a different amount of room for higher education.

As it stands, Governor Inslee has proposed that tuition stay the same, while the Senate is pushing a bill that would decrease tuition by three percent. The House budget includes a three percent increase in tuition.

The Senate is proposing to cut local tuition by three percent, which may be a good deal for many students. However, this also means that Pierce College would lose three percent of its income, leading to budget cuts within the school.

According to faculty union president Beth Norman, programs such as the CTC Link project, which is meant to make transferring credits more efficiently, take their funding from tuition and could be affected by a decrease.

In a recent Student Government meeting, it was pointed out that any change will be better than last year’s 12% jump in tuition.

Under the Senate’s proposed budget, a student taking 15 credits would save about $40 per quarter. This is a nice chunk of change, but with thousands of students paying less, the lower rates will also likely lead to visible penny-pinching within the school’s budget.

Inversely, a tuition increase like that proposed by the House would likely cause a drop in enrollment. Recent skyrocketing tuition has already made community college prices more comparable to former prices of state universities.

The American Federation of Teachers released a statement on April 4, calling the Senate’s budget “unrealistic, unsustainable and unfair” and stating that “if the Senate Republican budget goes forward, it will wipe out any other so-called increases in higher education funding. The per-student funding for higher education in this state will drop from second to the last place in the nation. Quality and access are suffering at a time when our business community is begging for people with college degrees and certificates. “

The Senate did propose to add an additional $300 million increase to preserving higher education, and pledged $1.5 billion to K-12 education. Some of this will go toward a system of “momentum points,” a reward system of funding that gives schools a proportion of money based on the amount of students enrolled who are reaching specific benchmarks of success.

The House budget also includes this type of performance funding, though it is offering to divert 10 million dollars toward that effort in comparison to the Senate’s 36 million dollars.

However, the Senate also proposed cuts to community colleges. A statement from Joann Wiszmann, Vice President of Administrative services, explained that “over two years, the Senate would cut 11.6 million dollars” from community colleges across the state, with Pierce expected to take on about four percent of that cut.

On the other hand, House Democrats proposed a budget that would increase overall spending by ten percent compared to the Senate’s seven. This would include eliminating tax breaks to funnel money toward education; this may cause a rise or extension in taxes on beer, businesses and nonresident shoppers.

On the other hand, the House budget includes a three percent jump in tuition, which would increase potential revenue to the college, but could also push potential and returning students away from enrolling due to cost.

$1.9 billion dollars of the House proposal would go toward educational funding, much of it as a direct response to a state Supreme Court ruling that concluded that the state isn’t “adequately funding basic education,” according to “The News Tribune.”

Governor Inslee proposed a plan that is similar to and in support of the House budget. Under his plan tuition would stay the same while several tax breaks would end.

Each plan does include clear-cut benefits to community colleges, including new funding for nursing, aerospace and STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics] programs, though it hasn’t been determined how much of these budget allocations Pierce College would receive.

There are high points for teachers as well, who will see an end to the three percent salary reduction that is currently in effect regardless of which budget plan is implemented.

Government budget negotiations are planned to continue in the upcoming weeks.

Tough decisions lead to staff pay changes

The Pioneer values accurate and credible reporting, and to that end the staff wishes to clarify one point in the Nov. 29 article titled “Tough decisions lead to staff pay changes.”

It was reported that the Chancellor, Dr. Michele Johnson, will receive a “$50,000 bonus and a $25,000 raise.” While these numbers are correct, they require further clarification.

According to the minutes of the Oct. 10, 2012 meeting of the college’s Board of Trustees, the college “will set aside $25,000 in each of two years, 2013 and 2014, the entire amount of $50,000 to be paid to Dr. Johnson as deferred compensation no sooner than June 1, 2014 and no later than June 30, 2014.”

The additional funds were approved for the purpose of “continuity of leadership” and so are contingent on Johnson staying on as chancellor through that time.

The $50,000 allocation is not a cash bonus but is to be placed in a supplementary retirement account.

In addition to the $50,000 retirement funds, and assuming Johnson remains as chancellor, she will receive a $25,000 salary increase beginning with the 2014/15 school year, increasing her salary to $211,612. This salary bump will be on top of any general salary increase authorized by the state Legislature.

We hope this clarifies the numbers and retires any misconceptions regarding the chancellor’s allocations.

Tamara Kelly,
Pioneer Editor in Chief


Cuts cause complications among levels of staff and contrast with higher-up’s hefty promotion

Valerie Ettenhofer
Staff Writer 

Recent contract negotiations have cut some employee paychecks down by three percent or an equivalent increase in workload.

Meanwhile, after much consideration, the Pierce College Board of Trustees has not only extended the contract of Chancellor Michele L. Johnson, but also has awarded her a raise. The title of CEO, a $50,000 bonus and a $25,000 raise have come at the cost of a palpable level of incredulity among other college employees.

“From a purely selfish standpoint, it doesn’t seem fair and the timing seems worse,” commented English professor Michael Darcher. “I don’t begrudge anyone for making as much as they can [but] it doesn’t send a message that the faculty is appreciated.”

His sentiment is shared among several faculty members, some of whom don’t feel comfortable identifying themselves for fear of repercussions.

Amidst a governmental push for financial reform and cutback, the highest-paid member of this workplace was guaranteed an amount of money that could pay off about one eighth of the $613,000 that the state is in the process of shaving off of Pierce’s overall budget in her first year with the raise and bonus alone.

The raise itself appears to be a vote of confidence in Chancellor Johnson’s ability to steer the school in a positive direction.

In September, the Board cited their appreciation for her “efforts and actions to bring about needed improvements to meet the challenges of reduced state support.”

An official statement also said that state law “allows for salary increase when critical retention needs are identified.”

Beth Norman, faculty union president, thinks that the raise came as a response to presidents and vice presidents from both campuses leaving or retiring. Johnson’s promotion will keep her at the college, but it’s not the only money these administrative changes will require.

“We can expect that these additional positions that we’re filling will come at higher salaries which means we’re going to have to find that money in the budget,” shares Norman.

Although Johnson may be working in support of her fellow employees the Pierce College budget is still being balanced by cutting employee time and money elsewhere.

Pierce College employees represent three distinct groups—faculty, classified staff and exempt staff. Each group has its own contract with the college. Joann Wiszmann, vice president of administrative services, explained that classified staff works in areas including supervision, purchasing, finance, IT, the Welcome Desk and the tutoring center.

Their union negotiation resulted in a deal that reduced classified staff pay by 3 percent in exchange for eight days of “temporary salary reduction leave,” or forced days off.

A second group, the exempt staff, consists of top management positions such as the chancellor, presidents, vice presidents and deans. They took a voluntary 3 percent pay cut.

“The administration basically made the decision that they would all take it,” said Norman. “For faculty, what we did was we made it really voluntary on an individual basis.”

From one angle, faculty may have ended up with the best deal of all employee groups. They are now required one more work day than their previous 172, and will be compensated for such. In exchange, teachers have been encouraged to voluntarily take on more students.

“We set it up so that they may voluntarily contribute something equivalent to 3 percent to our foundation if they choose to,” said Wiszmann. “A good number of our faculty is voluntarily adding more students to classes, which obviously helps us by bringing in a little more revenue without increasing the cost of the class.”

Although faculty did not end up taking a required 3 percent salary cut, they still felt losses in other areas through changes such as hiring freezes, cost of living adjustment and increases in medical copay.

Additionally, Pierce College faculty already has a salary that is approximately $5,000 less than that of surrounding community colleges.

Crowded classrooms are one way students are impacted by these changes. Besides the encouraged overloading, the past two years have seen a reduction in the number of classes offered. Courses may be appearing once a year instead of several times per quarter. Courses may change as well, as budget constraints are forcing administrators to reexamine teaching credentials, ensuring that each professor is teaching only within the limits of their degree.

Plans for improvement transcend funding

Pierce fails to receive Title 3 federal funding, still sets high goals for student progress

Valerie Ettenhofer
Staff Writer 

If the staff in charge of allocating the Pierce College budget does their job well, students shouldn’t notice the hole in federal funding caused by our failure to qualify for a Title 3 grant. Actually, the college has probably been without the government-awarded grant since most students have been here. Only once in its history, about a decade ago, did the school receive the much-appreciated annual 400,000 dollars that the grant rewards.

Title 3 is a competitive grant that requires schools to submit a detailed plan of action that outlines exactly what the college would do with the money. The plan also must include a proposed system of measuring the success the financial support creates, ensuring its effectiveness. Vice President of Advancement Suzy Ames insists that Pierces’ financial departments had a strong and prepared application, even if it did not make the cut.

“Our grant proposal focuses on three areas,” she explains. “The first is increasing faculty professional development so that they can have the skills to help more students succeed in the classroom. The second one is expanding research for data collection so we can make more data-driven, informed decisions. The third is to increase the number of students that progress from one level to the next.”

Ames points out that the grant is designed for flexibility. Once the proposal is made, the money must be spent in the aforementioned way, but it’s up to each school individually to determine their greatest area of need and fill in the gaps with federal funding. By the time Pierce College applies again, they may have a completely different economic need, and may make the case for a new set of changes.

Any grant money available is allocated directly by Washington D.C.’s Department of Education, whereas the majority of community college funding is divided up among 34 state institutions by Olympia’s board. The amount spent on education per year depends on both national and state budgets.

Next year, the powers that be may choose to continue down their already-ranked list of schools, meaning that Pierce, whose application only fell twelve points short of being accepted, may get a share of federal funding sooner rather than later.

Ames, however, has a positive plan for the school’s future that doesn’t rely on federal support. “We are committed to furthering these programs with or without Title 3. We’re focusing on bold and scalable initiatives; starting small but doing the small thing really well; making a difference for those students and then figuring out how to grow it so we can help more students.”

These initiatives may be seen through pilot programs, including one that aims to help students ‘level up’ through math courses, increasing their competency at an efficient rate.

The Foundation for Pierce College may lend the most direct help, as its purpose is to examine the school’s financial options and pursue the most beneficial forms of funding. Luckily for students, Ames is also the Foundation’s Executive Director, and takes her job seriously. She hopes to improve the school through local means.

“We are actively having conversations with private local foundations and national foundations that have a common interest in the needs that we had identified in our grant, to see if we can help fill that gap,” said Ames.

Meals for deals

Create quick bites on a budget

Connie Woodhouse
Contributing Writer

We all know that inflation is on the rise, for some of us paying for our college tuition can be a challenge. Life adds up very quickly, and we still need to eat.  If you’re like me, you want to stretch your dollar and get your money’s worth. Here is one recipe that saves money, flavors your dinner and is fun for the whole family.

If you’re a pizza lover you’ll enjoy this Easy Pleases Pizza recipe, one of my family favorites made with fewer than 10 dollars. Start by preheating the oven to 375 degrees. From there, cut either Ciabatta or French bread into halves, arranging them on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle the bread with olive oil and place the bread in the oven for five to ten minutes depending on the crispness you desire.

Next, remove the pan from the oven and place your bargain pasta sauce over the crust, spreading it evenly. Add peppers, onions, mushrooms and your favorite meat, top it with cheese, and then you are done!

You can also serve a salad along with it. Remember, this is your pizza. Have fun with it! You can prepare and experience great meals while spending only ten bucks and under.

Finding items at a cheap price isn’t as hard as some of us like to think. A lot of grocery stores have great offers if you know what to look for. Some name brands cost a lot more when you can get the same product at a lower cost by comparing prices while you’re shopping.

Easy Pleases Pizza

Prep: 10 minutes

Bake: 10-15 minutes

What you need:

4 ciabatta or one loaf of French bread

¼ cup olive oil (optional)

1 16 oz. can of pasta sauce

8 oz. Italian cheese blend (optional) chose of cheese that will melt

½ cup slice onions

½ green red yellow bell peppers (optional)

¼ cup of mushrooms   (optional)

½ cup of your favorite meat, chicken, ham, beef, and sausage (optional)

Budget cuts hit childcare

As budget cuts swept the nation like a hurricane, the campus daycare was no exception to the economic turmoil.

The Milgard Child Development Center (MCDC) had to let go of part-time employees to avoid going over budget once again. Last year, MCDC went over their budget for part-time staff by $45,000.

With the decrease in part-time staff, fewer parents were able to enroll their children at Milgard.

By state law, daycare centers had to abide by the provider/child ratio requirements. Parents still on the waiting list, had two options: take online classes or not go to school this quarter.

“Major cuts had to be made. We looked at how many children were enrolled for each quarter, the hours of attendance of children, and the part-time staff hours”, Dede Reaves, program assistant at MCDC said.

“Without having enough teachers to help support the classrooms, I cannot bring in as many children,” Reaves added.

According to the Pierce website, the average age of students attending the Ft. Steilacoom and Puyallup campuses were about 29-year-old. With a wide spectrum of ages, some of the students were parents going to school to improve their financial situations.

“The majority of our families who have their children enrolled here were going back to school to survive,” Reaves said.

“Most parents tell me if they could not get childcare or money from financial aid, then there was no way they could have gone back to school,” Reaves added.

Families were once able to use funding from the Washington Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) to provide daycare cost assistance for parents working part-time. However, the DSHS program has been cut and parents must rely on financial aid or other outlets to pay for daycare expenses.

Reaves wants the college to embrace the child development center, instead of it being a waste in funding. The two-child development centers from the Ft. Steilacoom and Puyallup campuses grossed $1.5 million last year from the daycare costs parents paid and state funding.

Some part-time staff at Milgard hoped the budget cuts would end so they could feel at ease knowing their jobs were secure.

“I’ve enjoyed my job for the past three years. I’m working at Milgard because of the experience I get with children. I love being able to interact with the kids,” Brunilda Lleras, part-time teaching assistant said.

“I do worry about my job because of my age. I can not see myself working anywhere else,” Lleras added.

Budget cuts not only affected the child development center, but the entire college system.

“We had to make adjustments, just as most departments at Pierce College had to,” Michael Koetje, district director of child development programs said.

“Full-time and part-time staff had to alter their planning and combined classes in the morning and afternoon. It was sad to see one of the rooms empty because of the lack of enrollment due to budget cuts,” Koetje added.

Milgard in Ft. Steilacoom has the same level funding from student programs that it has had since it opened in April of 2007. The Milgard in Puyallup lost some of their funding to other programs this year.

University of Washington Tacoma (UWT) and other colleges may open up child development centers to allow parents to go to school. Some parents on campus are grateful for having a center to watch their children, while they pursue a degree.

“Everyone at Milgard has been gracious and accommodating to my family and I. My daughter is getting a head start in her educational development for the rest of her life. Most children that go to preschool will go on to college,” Rachel Bryant, student and parent said.

“I would rather take classes on campus instead of online courses. I need structure to focus in school. I sometimes need time for myself,” Bryant added.

The child development centers are a recruitment and retention tool for people with kids. Milgard in Ft. Steilacoom is part of the National Accreditation Commission for Early Childcare and Education Programs.

For more information about the Milgard Child Development Centers, go to the website: http://www.pierce.ctc.edu/studentlife/childcare/, or contact Dede Reaves at 253-912-3680.

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