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Monday, March 01, 2010

A&M to offer buyouts to 280 employees

In effort to deal with state budget cuts Alabama A&M University will offer buyouts to nearly 300 veteran employees.

The A&M board of trustees voted unanimously to offer six months' pay to 280 employees who have 25 years' experience or are age 60 with 10 years' experience to leave.

Charles Rucker, vice president for business and finance, said he estimates 43 will take the buyout, leading to net savings of $1.8 million by the end of fiscal 2011 and $2.7 million by the end of fiscal 2012.

The buyout would be paid this year and next to spread the cost, but trustees authorized borrowing up to $1 million from A&M's contingency fund this year if the offer proves more popular.

A&M is coping with a 7.5 percent state budget cut this fiscal year. Combined with drops in enrollment, school President Andrew Hugine Jr. says the university's funding is down $18 million over the past two years.

Groundskeeping to be outsourced
Board members also approved outsourcing groundskeeping, custodial services and facilities management to Aramark, the company now handling food service on campus.

The three-year contract is for $4.86 million, Hugine told the board, but Aramark has promised to make $1 million a year in "retrofits and upgrades" to the campus over the life of the deal.

The first of those upgrades will be installing call boxes around campus to improve student safety, Hugine said.

A&M employs 115 people in custodial, grounds and facilities jobs now. They will meet with Aramark executives and A&M administrators Monday to learn their future.

Administrators said Aramark has promised to give A&M employees a chance to work for the company, but the school expects at least some will retire or seek work elsewhere.