The Ozarks Technical Community College Board of Trustees yesterday approved an early retirement incentive plan and adjustments to tuition and fees amid the coronavirus pandemic.
OTC spokesman Mark Miller said the board gave the green light to voluntary retirement incentives that were brought on, in part, by the coronavirus.
Similar to an initiative conducted a few years ago, the program is available to employees who are eligible to retire, Miller said.
Two options are available. Employees can choose to accept payments of $500 annually for each year at OTC for a maximum of 20 years, or $10,000. Miller said they also may accept payments for group health insurance for two years following retirement, which is currently equivalent to $13,600.
Miller said eligible employees are those who have at least 25 years of service in the school's retirement system, as well as workers who are 60 years of age or older, have been employed by OTC for at least five years and are vested in the retirement system.
"We expect 10-12 employees to take advantage of the incentive," Miller said via email.
The board's decision on the retirement incentives is the result of several factors, he said. Miller cited a $1 million cut from the state of Missouri due to the coronavirus, more anticipated slashes in state funding and a projected enrollment decline in the fall due to COVID-19.
The OTC board on Monday voted to do away with online course fees but implemented an increase in the student technology fee.
The $65 student fee for online classes will be waived starting June 1, according to a news release.
“The college has considered dropping online course fees for several years because almost every class taught at OTC has some online component,” OTC Chancellor Hal Higdon said in the release. “When COVID-19 forced us to move all classes online, it seemed like the right thing to do for our students."
To replace the lost revenue, the board approved a measure to increase the technology fee that all students pay to $19 per credit hour, an $11 increase.
The board also voted to raise in-district tuition for the first time since the 2018-19 academic year. Tier I classes, which typically are general education, will go up by $4 per credit hour. Technical education and medical courses will increase by $3 per credit hour, according to the release.
“We had not planned to raise tuition at all this year,” Higdon said in the release. “But with the state already announcing cuts to higher education and a lot of uncertainty surrounding future funding, we had no choice.”
In-district tuition, per credit hour, is increasing to $117 for Tier I classes, $120 for Tier II technical education classes and $130 for Tier III medical classes.
Hybrid coffeehouse and plant shop Urban Grounds launched in Ozark; the Missouri Job Center relocated; and Closet Chic LLC opened a brick-and-mortar shop.