By Jonathan Baca, Copy Editor
CNM has initiated a hiring freeze for all work-study employment positions, and all departments will be unable to hire any new student employees until July 1, when the new fiscal year begins, said Lee Carrillo, Director of Financial Aid and Scholarship Services.
The hiring freeze should not affect any current work-study employees, but any departments who lose any employees will not be able to replace them, and will have to make do until they can hire new employees in July, Carrillo said.
“It all comes down to one thing; we have limited funding,” Carrillo said.
The school currently hires about 300 to 350 work-study employees per year, he said.
One change that will affect current employees is that pay periods will not go up from 20 to 30 weekly hours this summer as it has in the past, because there are no extra funds this year, Carrillo said.
This increase had been done in summers past, because there had been a surplus at the end of those years, and the school is required to spend the entire allocation before the end of the fiscal year. If there is any money left over at the start of the new year, the amount of money the State and Federal governments give would likely be adjusted, and the school would receive less the next year, he said.
This is the second year in a row that a hiring freeze has had to be implemented in order to ensure that enough money was left to continue paying existing student employees, he said.
Although the school could cut student employees’ hours in order to keep from running out of funds, Carrillo said that the school has looked at the affect this would have, and would only do this as a last option.
“We look at all those things, and we hope it doesn’t come to that, which I don’t think it will,” Carrillo said.
The funds that go toward paychecks for all work-study employees come from a collective fund from Federal and State allocations, and from CNM itself, he said.
Director of Marketing and Communications, Brad Moore said that $600,000 comes from the Federal government, $1.2 million is given by the State, and the school kicks in an additional $650,000, which is more than the 25 percent the school is required by law to contribute.
“We want to be able to hire and employ as many work-study students as possible. The administration feels it is important for students to get an opportunity to have employment here, so the decision is made to add money to that fund,” Moore said.
At the start of each fiscal year, the school must estimate how many work-study employees it can hire based on the amount of money in the fund, the number of hours in a typical pay period, and the hourly wage, Carrillo said.
Although it was not legally required of them, the school did raise the hourly wage to $8.50 when Albuquerque voters raised the city’s minimum wage at the start of 2013. The school then gave work-study employees an additional ten cent raise in January, Carrillo said.
Carrillo said that the recent increases have changed the math significantly and contributed to the recent freezes, but that the school is still dedicated to hiring as many student employees as it can.
“Once we hit that plateau, we’ve got to freeze. And everybody who has a job can keep that job, but we just have to make sure that we make it to the end of the funding year with the allocations we have,” Carrillo said.
Carrillo said that budgeting for the work-study fund can become a delicate balancing act, since some employees work less than others, some quit or are fired, and some vacant positions stay open for long periods of time.
The Financial Aid department has to keep a constant eye on these ever-changing factors in an attempt to predict how much money will be needed to last the entire year. This hiring freeze is the final tool in the toolbox that ensures the money will not run out, Carrillo said.
Moore said that the work-study program is very important to the school and to the employees themselves, because the work they do is valuable to so many departments, and because the students get experience and important references for their future.
“It’s great to have student employees in the work environment because it helps keep us in tune with students and how their day to day lives really are. It’s highly valuable for regular CNM employees to have work-study employees around, to stay in touch with student life,” Moore said.
With talk in Washington about the possibility of raising the Federal minimum wage to $10 an hour or more, Carrillo said that the school would most likely be forced to hire significantly less work-study employees if the raise were to pass, unless they could secure more funding.