P&S Council offers formal support to budget-cutting plans

The Professional and Scientific Council passed a motion at its Aug. 6 meeting in support of the university's temporary budget-cutting plans.

The motion, enacted immediately by waiving the requirement for a second reading, acknowledged the budget crunch caused by projected enrollment losses, reduced state funding and costs related to the COVID-19 response. In response, the current fiscal year 2021 budget was reduced 5%, and FY2022 will bring another 5% reduction. To help balance the budget, the retirement match for TIAA will be reduced by two percentage points for 10 months, beginning Sept. 1. Renovations and capital projects have been frozen, and filling a vacant position requires approval from a senior vice president. Also, a retirement incentive program has been established, and the tuition reimbursement program for staff has been pared back to allow only Iowa State courses.

Additional measures may be needed. Options include a review of benefit costs such as ISU Plan health insurance premiums, which have not increased for six years, President Wendy Wintersteen said in a July 10 message to faculty and staff. To represent the interests of P&S staff, the council hopes to be involved in decisions about future budget-cutting measures.

Representing P&S staff in discussions about upcoming cost-reduction plans also is one of the four strategic initiatives the council is considering adopting for 2020-21. The other three are:

  • Advocating for solutions that address P&S staff concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including flexible work arrangements and parking agreements, accessible resources and mental health support

  • Calling for meaningful training for supervisors with a focus on the fundamentals

  • Recommending communication surrounding the final phase of the classification and compensation review, with particular attention to employee rights, working titles, compensation structure, market equity and understanding career progression options.

The council will vote on the strategic initiatives at its September meeting.

Child care uncertainty

Cris Broshar, worklife specialist with university human resources (UHR), gave a presentation on UHR's child care and family services, in light of the uncertainty surrounding child care and K-12 schools during the pandemic.

"We understand the constant changes and unpredictable circumstances are taking a toll," she said.

UHR currently is conducting a survey of ISU employees with children in kindergarten through sixth grade to determine their child care needs in the coming school year. If a need is identified, the university may consider facilitating additional child care options, services that would be paid for by the families of enrolled children. Parents who didn't receive the survey can request a link by emailing ccfamily@iastate.edu. Survey responses are due by 4 p.m. Aug. 14.

Vice president of extension and outreach John Lawrence, chair of the executive fall planning committee, said there has been discussion about using classrooms currently unoccupied due to capacity limitations if space is needed on campus for third-party child care services.