Big Bend CC employee turnover subject of discussion

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MOSES LAKE — Keeping employees at Big Bend Community College was a subject of discussion at the regular meeting of the BBCC trustees Thursday.

Kim Garza, vice president for human resources, provided trustees with year-end statistics on staff turnover, estimated to be about 10.5 percent for 2017. That’s in line with 2016, she said, when it was about 11.8 percent.

“We need to be mindful of the numbers of resignations,” Garza said. Traditionally, people who quit their jobs at the college are retiring, she said, but “our sense in human resources is that’s beginning to shift. We have people leaving our institution for other opportunities.”

Big Bend has hired 97 new employees since she came to work at the college in 2012, she said, which is about half of all BBCC employees. “Half of the people who are employed full time with us today were not here five years ago.” That makes it more difficult to maintain consistency among the staff, she said. “It is challenging for an institution to keep up with that magnitude of change.”

Big Bend president Terry Leas said part of the problem is compensation. “Right now we’re losing employees to other organizations within the community because they, frankly, offer more in the way of compensation.” Garza said that includes support staff as well as instructors. “We have difficulty filling our custodial positions. The school district in Moses Lake pays $5 per hour more than we do.”

Trustee Jon Lane asked if the college was doing a good job keeping recently-hired employees. Garza said college officials hadn’t studied that question very closely yet, but that there seems to be turnover among employees who’ve been at BBCC five years or less.

Leas said BBCC might have a reputation as a good place to start. Potential employees “see Big Bend as a good opportunity to get that first full-time faculty position, for example, and then once they’re employees, it’s easier to advance to a larger institution,” Leas said.

In other business, the number of people taking classes at BBCC was down by about 300, when compared with fall 2016. Total student count was 2,355, which includes full time students as well as people taking a few classes or even one class, along with programs like Adult Basic Education and Running Start.

But like public K-12 school districts, BBCC doesn’t get paid according to the number of students actually taking classes. State apportionment is allocated on the basis of how many full-time students all those people would add up to; for fall 2017, that’s 1,897 FTE (full-time equivalency).

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at education@columbiabasinherald.com.

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