NancyHeege2002As our team of six Field Staff [Ian Evison, Dori Thexton, Lisa Presley, Nancy Combs-Morgan, Phil Lund, and Nancy Heege] began to imagine what the staffing for a larger region might look like, we realized that there was quite a bit of duplication in the work. There are newsletters produced by Central Midwest, Heartland, and Prairie Star Districts. There is a separate web site for each district. There are three budgets, three accounting systems, three filing systems [some paper, some virtual], three sets of equipment, one physical office and two virtual ones, with their staff working from home offices. Each district has a full time Administrator; two districts have part-time Web Coordinators; one has a very part time Clerical Assistant. As Ian noted in an earlier blog post, it’s clear that we’ll never go back to the “old normal” in district and congregational financing. Those days are gone.

Although each district has made cuts in various areas, it’s clear that our financial picture is not sustainable. Central Midwest and Heartland have moved from physical to virtual offices; Prairie Star still has a physical office. Two of our three districts asked their staff to sacrifice and take a week’s furlough. The districts that have reserves have begun to spend them, which were built up over years when income exceeded expenses. The reality is that congregations are no longer able to fully fund the contributions it would take to sustain the kind of staff and programming we have enjoyed in the past. We can no longer expect that income will exceed expense.

We asked ourselves, “If we combined our forces, could we reduce some of the duplication?” The answer was yes. We asked our three Administrators to tell us how many hours per week they could imagine would be needed for a regional administrative staff. Their answers suggested that we could reduce our three full time administrative staff to two Full Time Equivalent staff. We think they are correct. So two years out, we let our Administrators know that we would be reducing our administrative staff by one FTE position by July 1, 2013. We are developing job descriptions for two FTE staff positions, and we’ll invite our current staff to apply as inside candidates, if they choose to do that.

At the same time, we started talking about developing a new regional web site, to serve our congregations. We currently have a Web Coordinator in Prairie Star District who works ten hours a week; a Communications Coordinator in Central Midwest District who works eighteen hours per week; and no extra position in Heartland. (Their Administrator does their web site.) Our PSD Web Coordinator has let us know he’ll be leaving the position to pursue another line of work before the summer. Our latest thinking is that we’ll create a new regional web site by mid-summer, 2012, and that we’ll develop a job description for a 20 – 25 hour tech position, to which the CMWD Communications Coordinator could apply as an inside candidate, to begin this summer.

Changes such as these can’t be made overnight, so we have begun them, in advance of a formal decision to dissolve the districts and create a new regional body. We value our staff and wanted them to have plenty of notice when we are thinking of reducing our staff hours. It’s the right thing to do. -- Nancy Heege