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McLean Community Center staff ‘under severe duress’ amid vacancies

The McLean Community Center (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

About half of the McLean Community Center’s staff positions are currently vacant, leaving its existing workers reportedly struggling to keep up with an increased workload.

As of last Thursday (April 28), the center had filled 58 of its 125 positions, 25 of which are considered full-time, MCC Marketing and Communications Director Sabrina Anwah told FFXnow in a statement. Only one of the vacancies is a full-time position.

“MCC is currently undergoing a strategic planning process,” Anwah said. “Once that is complete, a workforce analysis will be performed, and we can provide additional updates after that.”

The facility’s staffing limitations came up during an April 20 meeting of the MCC Governing Board’s programs and outreach committee.

When discussing the ongoing effort to develop a new strategic plan, which will guide MCC’s future direction, some board members proposed that staff deliver regular reports to the board with their ideas and updates on how well the center is doing based on program participation, community feedback, and other metrics.

According to the meeting minutes, staff said they would welcome new reporting tools but currently “don’t have time to do our regular jobs.”

“We are understaffed and doing much more programming than previous,” staff said. “There needs to be an awareness of how thinly-staffed MCC is.”

MCC’s staff is limited to 40 work hours per week with no option for overtime. They frequently work in the evenings and on weekends, Executive Director Daniel Singh told the committee.

“Staff is under severe duress, especially in programming,” he said.

According to Singh, MCC reduced its staff under his predecessor, George Sachs, while the center was undergoing a renovation that concluded in 2018.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in spring 2020, Sachs opted not to restore all of the vacant positions, including MCC’s deputy director, Singh said, noting that reassigning a position takes eight to 16 months.

“Staffing issue is not something MCC can turn around quickly,” Singh said, according to the minutes.

Staffing has been a challenge across the board for the Fairfax County government over the past year, from the police department and behavioral health workers to trash collectors and school bus drivers.

The county’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2023, which is scheduled to be adopted on May 10 and will take effect starting July 1, provides funding for 34 regular positions at MCC, including two new positions — a network analyst and an administrative support staffer “to support expanded activities within the community center.”

According to the budget document, the county estimates that utilization of MCC is up 457.1% this fiscal year, which began on July 1, 2021, after plummeting while the center was closed or had limited capacity due to COVID-19.

Usage of the facility for classes, meetings, and programs is projected to increase by a less dramatic 5.9% over the next year.