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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

No matter how bad you have it...

Here in North Carolina higher education is taking a bit of hair-cut. We are being asked to give up about 7% of our operating budget. While this is painful it is not requiring us to cancel programs or fire professors or too many staff, at least to this point.

This is not the case in other states, especially those that do not have an income tax. In Florida and Tennessee things are bad, although I admit to not seeing much about what is going on in Texas.

In today's Tallahasee Democrat is a story concerning Florida A&M:
With the promotion of a 22-percent cut, FAMU could sustain another $22 million in permanent cuts to its budget. This would occur following three permanent cuts that have reduced our budget by $18 million already. Such action will drastically change the way FAMU operates.
What does it all mean for current and future FAMU students?
President James Ammons informed us that the cuts proposed by the House would mean:

  • Laying off more than 250 employees — to include faculty and critical staff.

  • Furloughing staff for two weeks.

  • Closing of some academic programs.

  • Limiting our course offerings, ensuring larger classes at a time when students will be asked to pay more in tuition and fees.

  • Limiting or no longer offering the direct support services provided to students, taking reductions in critical student services areas such as student accounts, financial aid, admission and the cashier's office — all of which are understaffed now because of prior budget cuts.

  • Eliminating almost all of the Other Personal Service (OPS) employees — such as adjunct professors, temporary staff and graduate/student assistants.

  • Eliminating summer school in 2010.
  • Some might ask "Who cares?" but even FAMU offers some value added to its students. We know that having only a high-school education is not the way to wealth for most people. The evidence the value added of a college education is clear. So why do the states insist on chopping down the one tree that bears so much fruit in the near and distant future?

    [Update: Turns out I spoke too soon. Around 3pm today we received notice that the governor had mandated a 0.5% reduction in state payrolls. Here is part of the email we received this afternoon:
    Specifically regarding the effect to payrolls for the remainder of the fiscal year, we are diligently working to clarify the many implementation questions raised by today’s directive from the Governor. Because the Office of State Personnel’s implementation guidance may not be complete until May 25, 2009, and the fiscal year ends June 30, 2009, the required 1/2 of 1% of an employee’s annual compensation reduction may occur in as few as one or as many as four pay periods. In exchange for the compensation reduction, 10 hours of time off will be provided to each full-time employee as described in the memorandum attached. Non full-time employees will receive a pro-rata share of time off.

    It will be a bit of a shock if all the money reduction is from one pay period, but it is better than being laid off.

    Who said us professors were on a fixed income?]

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    At my local community college, they wanted to make everything fair by cutting everybody equally. A business instructor had to point out that lecture only classes make money and anything with a lab loses money. Also apparently states hide money, look-up CAFR.
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