Collegiate cuts will mean job losses - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Collegiate cuts will mean job losses

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By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –  Programs and employees at area colleges and universities are on the chopping block as the state looks to cut as much as $300 million in higher education funding.

The proposed cutbacks could results in 4,000  job losses statewide, including hundreds in our area. State lawmakers demanded the proposal, and Chancellor Errol Davis will take it before a joint House-Senate hearing Wednesday.

Under the proposal, Darton College would cut $2.7 million out of next year's budget. They say that's more than the deep cuts made in the last two years combined.

If higher education cuts in Georgia are approved, it could mean deep cuts to Darton College's budget impacting 600 students.  To cut $2.7 million, it will cost the college, programs and staff.

"Eliminating the nursing program at East Georgia College and terminating our foreign language lab here on campus," said Krista Robitz, Darton College's Dir. of Communications.

Students will feel the impact in the classroom, with expanding class sizes. "Taking classes that are typically 25 to 35, 40 and then classes that are larger core classes around 50, 60 taking those to 75 or 100," said Robitz.

A move teachers say cuts short the learning process, especially in an area with a high poverty and illiteracy rate.

"Increasing class sizes could have an impact on students and their relationship with their instructor," said Sarah Kuck, a Darton College Political Science professor.

At Albany State the proposed cuts are deeper yet.  If they must cut $3.7 million from their budget, they'll be forced to cut six academic programs, including foreign language classes.

"We're already running an extraordinarily lean institution.  We made cuts as you know last year and there is no fat in our system at all," said Dr. Everette J. Freeman, ASU President.

The police force could be reduced by 20% and nearly 50% of reduced part time/adjunct faculty could lose jobs, affecting the community.

"Every dollar invested in southwest Georgia has a multiplier not just for the students themselves but for this entire community," said Freeman.

Freeman says that's a consequence that's difficult to calculate and one you can't put a price on.

Administrators at both colleges are encouraging faculty, staff, and the community to let state senators and representatives know what they think about these proposed cuts.  They say there are other alternatives out there, like luxury taxes and if you'd rather see a tax than hurt education, then you need to call.

Georgia Southwestern State University would eliminate $2.1 million by cutting 18 jobs and eliminating raises.

ABAC's proposed cuts would slash $2.4 million by eliminating 34 jobs, 10% of the College's employees.  Off-campus learning sites in Moultrie and downtown Tifton would also be closed.

Public Notice from ASU-

As the University System of Georgia prepares to submit its proposed plan for budget reductions for FY 2011, Albany State University officials plan to answer questions about how the possible reductions would affect ASU.

To address the questions, a town hall meeting will be held at 3 p.m. Wednesday, March 3, in the HPER Gymnasium. ASU students, faculty, staff, alumni and other supporters are welcome to attend.

Dr. Everette J. Freeman, ASU president, and other administrators will be on hand to answer questions.

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