Higher education cuts up to 15%

By Laura Geller - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Governor Kaine announced up to 15 percent reductions to Virginia's community colleges. Universities and those schools are worried.

The institutions are still crunching the numbers. They're not exactly sure how deep these cuts will go. But whether they end up in the double or single digits, schools tell us, with this fourth round of cuts, there's not much budget fat left to trim.

Community colleges say it was tough to hear the news today from Governor Kaine. Those schools face almost $46 million in cuts system wide and it couldn't come at a worse time.

"We're at a time when we're seeing record enrollments, more people are coming to community colleges to start their career or restart their career," said Virginia Community College System Spokesman Jeff Kraus.

The tough choices of what can be cut will be made by each of the 23 colleges individually.

"When you look at community colleges, the vast majority of your costs, 85-90%, are personnel. They're instructors. They're people who are teaching at the front of classrooms," said Kraus.

"There is an end point to all of this but we continue to find all those nooks and crannies," said John Tyler Community College President Dr. Marshall Smith.

While community colleges are seeing the smallest cut in higher education, universities throughout the Commonwealth are hard hit. Virginia State will have to make almost $3.4 million in cuts. VCU will see the largest cut of any school with more than $25 million in reductions.

And students will feel those cuts on college campuses. VCU tells us it's still doing the math, but it's looking into not expanding or adding new programs, not filling vacant positions, not giving professors new teaching or graduate assistants and cutting faculty training.

"It's shocking because we've already suffered many cuts. I'm interested in seeing how we're supposed to get degrees with no money!" said senior Brittany Jones.

The governor says stimulus dollars for 2011 will offset some of these cuts. But, with no definite end to the economic downturn in sight, schools tell us they worry this could leave an even bigger hole to fill next year.

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