ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) — Planning to save costs by cutting six program offerings and combining others, Erie Community College President Dr. David Balkin said the situation was created by a declining enrollment and a lack of action.

“The challenges that we’re facing are the result of years of not addressing a problem that has been ongoing,” Balkin said Wednesday. He said the school has “not done the rightsizing” that was necessary as enrollment declined.

ECC’s current student population is in the neighborhood of 8,000, Balkin said, roughly half of what it was about a decade ago.

“Every college loves to be able to point to the number of programs that they have. Not every program should be maintained,” Balkin said. “Like any business, you have to continuously revisit and streamline and pare down programs that aren’t in high demand.”

Speaking at an event Wednesday, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz noted the issues ECC faces are threatening.

“These are significant problems to the effect that if they’re not addressed properly the college could go out of business,” Poloncarz said.

ECC is planning to drop its casino gaming machine repair technology, computer aided drafting and design technology, dental laboratory technology, graphic communications technology, web page design, and health information technology programs. The college will “teach out” students currently taking those classes.

In the meantime, the school will combine 16 common programs scheduled at both the North and South campuses and hub them at its North campus in Amherst. It means there will be a reduction of the footprint at the South campus in Orchard Park.

“Probably the greatest consideration frankly was underutilized space suggesting there are other things we might be able to do with that space,” Balkin said. “But additionally the demographics. The population growth in the Southtowns is slated to be significantly less than the other two locations.

Balkin took over as president at ECC last month. The reorganization marks his first major task as head of the college.

On Tuesday, Erie County Legislator John Mills, who represents the Southtowns, expressed concern about the future of the South campus.

“I don’t see it. I hope it can sustain itself and still have a program where Southtowns residents can go to that school,” Mills said. “But I’m not optimistic.”

But Balkin provided a glimmer of hope Wednesday, with a caveat.

“Currently, I envision us always having a presence in the Southtowns,” he said. “What that looks like may change.”

The changes planned are slated to be the subject of impact bargaining with the unions representing those who work at ECC. Balkin noted the college is already in active discussions with all four unions.

“Nothing is done until it’s done. But it’s clear what we need to do from a cost perspective,” he said.

On Tuesday, Andrew Sako, president of the Faculty Federation at Erie Community College, said he had received “basic information” regarding planned deactivations.

“Some changes may be necessary,” Sako said. “Others might not make sense.”

Chris Horvatits is an award-winning reporter who started working at WIVB in 2017. A Lancaster native, he came to Buffalo after working at stations in Rochester and Watertown. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.