St. Louis Science Center lays off 24 employees as part of $2 million budget cut

2012-02-08T16:05:00Z 2013-05-09T08:41:08Z St. Louis Science Center lays off 24 employees as part of $2 million budget cutBY MATTHEW HATHAWAY • mhathaway@post-dispatch.com > 314-340-8121 stltoday.com

ST. LOUIS • The St. Louis Science Center has laid off 24 employees as part of an effort to cut more than $2 million in expenses.

Science Center President Bert Vescolani met today with employees of the tax-funded museum to discuss the staffing reduction, which affects about nine percent of the center's work force and includes both full-time and part-time employees.

Vescolani said the layoff was necessary for the center to cut $2.1 million in operational expenses, a target of the 2012 budget approved Tuesday by the center's publicly appointed board of commissioners. The layoff and other staffing reductions obtained through attrition constitute about half of the overall budget cut, Vescolani said.

Vescolani, who started at the center in December, said he has met with center employees to identify areas where spending can be cut and ways for the center to run more efficiently. Employees probably weren't surprised to learn that there would be layoffs, he said.

"During my first week, I met with the whole staff," Vescolani said. "And I shared with them that the institution needs to look at being a better business, and that means cutting expenses and growing revenue."

Vescolani said the layoff included front-line employees and one top official, Gregg Maryniak, the center's senior director responsible for energy and aerospace programs.

In October, in the wake of Post-Dispatch stories about bonuses and executive compensation at the science center, Maryniak and four other vice presidents were demoted to other management positions. The moves were meant to save $400,000 annually. The institution also has ended the practice of paying bonuses to its executives.

Marti Cortez -- a former vice president who was demoted during last year's restructuring to managing director for visitor experience -- recently resigned from the center, but Vescolani said her departure wasn't part of today's staffing reduction.

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