Students stroll around Pima’s Northwest campus.

A.E. Araiza / Arizona Daily Star 2014

Pima Community College expects to downsize its workforce to cope with lost state funding and a serious enrollment slide now in its fifth straight year.

The college must cut about $5 million from its budget for the upcoming school year, making it “extraordinarily likely we will be eliminating positions,” David Bea, the school’s finance boss, said Friday.

“We hope they won’t be positions with people in them,” Bea told members of the college’s finance and audit committee in a meeting at PCC headquarters.

In anticipation of budget cuts, the college has largely stopped filling vacancies when employees leave, Bea said. Three campus vice president positions also were recently eliminated.

But it’s too soon to say if such measures will stanch the need for further workforce cuts, Bea said.

PCC had the equivalent of about 2,200 full-time employees and an annual payroll of more than $100 million in the latest Star 200 list of Southern Arizona’s top employers.

The college’s total budget is around $259 million this school year.

Governor Doug Ducey’s recent budget proposal recommended that PCC receive no state funding next school year for the second straight year.

The college didn’t get any state funding this school year either, a loss of around $7 million.

The state cuts have occurred as PCC is on orders from its accreditor to make numerous improvements to its operations, changes that have added to PCC’s overhead, Bea said.

“It sounds to me like you’re at a crossroads. It can’t be business as usual,” finance committee member Tracy Nuckolls told Bea.

On top of the lost state funds, PCC has lost millions of tuition dollars because of a 26 percent enrollment drop since 2011.

Despite a $450,000 ad campaign aimed at reversing the trend, enrollment fell by another 1,000 or so students this school year, college data show.

In total, PCC is down about 6,000 students in five years. Enrollment fell from 23,000 in 2011 to about 17,000 this year.

“We will have to ratchet down our operations to reflect the size of our enrollment,” Bea said.

The impact of the budget cuts on college tuition rates has yet to be determined. Bea said it may be wise to keep any increase small “so we’re not pricing people out” when enrollment already is down.

PCC still is early in its budget-setting process for the 2016-17 school year that starts July 1.

Its Governing Board is due to hold a study session on the budget next month when more details should become available.

Contact Carol Ann Alaimo at 573-4138 or calaimo@tucson.com