Brookdale Community College’s Board of Trustees Thursday night approved a plan by President Maureen Murphy to cut jobs at the college to fill a $5.5 million budget hole.
The plan to cut dozens of jobs will take effect at the beginning of the next fiscal year starting in July.
Lora Campbell was the only trustee of the 12 to vote no on the plan.
Early in the meeting, the board took a contentious part of the plan off the table.
The fitness center at Brookdale will remain open, supported now by user’s fees. The fitness center now costs the college about $250,000 a year to run.
But the approved plan maintains another controversial measure: privatizing the Children’s Learning Center. The daycare center costs the college about $350,000 annually, college officials said.
Under other amendments to the plan, the net job loss dropped from 51 to 48. Brookdale TV will be saved as will the job of a senior production specialist. Two English as a Second Language tutors will be added.
At least one challenge to the plan emerged at the meeting. The board’s labor counsel told the trustees that the college’s unions threatened to sue the board if the Reduction in Force plan was put through.
More than 250 people turned out for the meeting.
Freeholder John Curley, a Brookdale alumnus, said he would try to persuade the two other Monmouth County freeholders who sit on the Board of School Estimate, Lillian Burry and Serena DiMaso, to push through a $15 a credit increase to cover the losses that spurred the Reduction in Force plan. That Board of Estimate, which votes on the college’s budget, consists of three freeholders and two trustees. Absent Burry and DiMaso’s support, Curley said he would appeal to the two trustees.
“I’ll stake my political career on it,” Curley said.
Jack Ryan, an English professor at Brookdale, yelled at the board for what he called President Maureen Murphy’s attempts to diminish the power of the unions representing staff at the college.
“If she could, she’d find a way to bust our unions!” Ryan said.
Barbara Gonos, a criminal justice professor and an attorney, took the board to task for its lack of diversity, a criticisms that plays into her critique of the Reduction in Force plan. There are no minority members on the 12-member board.
“It’s a 1950s board, not a 21st century board,” she said.
Gonos said by law the board needed to perform an affirmative action analysis while the plan was under development, not the night of the vote as it happened.
“You’ve just given a holiday gift to our attorneys,” she said.
One of Brookdale’s best known alumni, Brian Williams, anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News, wrote a letter to the board, not mentioning the Reduction in Force plan, but highlighting the college’s importance to his career.
“As a student, I admit I was lackluster and un-motivated. I earned only 18 credits over two years of part-time attendance. They happen to constitute the last college credits I ever earned,” he wrote. “But in a very special way, I have carried my Brookdale education with me throughout my life and career.”