A John Wood Community College administrator with a 25 year career at the school says this is the most financially challenging time that he can remember.
JWCC President John Letts says it's because the state of Illinois isn't paying the money they owe the community colleges on time. So, what will this mean for the students and staff? In the past several years, the school has balanced the budget through layoffs and tuition increases. Letts says that's not the plan for this budget, but they are still in a state of uncertainty. But he says the main priority in this financially troubled time is to focus on the students.
"I love being here, I feel more at home," said Elizabeth Cepeda.
"Definitely prepared me more than a four year institution," said Nathan Kurz.
But Letts says the state isn't making things easier.He says the community college was supposed to receive more than two million dollars this fiscal year. So far, they've received about half a million, and Letts doesn't expect some of the rest of that funding to come until next fiscal year. "It requires us to use reserves that we have to continue to make payroll and taking care of business so that we don't fall behind," he said.
But it's also a big issue when it comes to making a balanced budget. Currently administrators are working on a 15 million dollar budget, and it could get slashed by another five percent. Letts says he doesn't want to raise tuition or lose any staff.
"I would like to eliminate that as a possibility as well. We've had staff cuts for the last two years and they have not been happy times," he said.
Students say the hardest part is simply not knowing what's going to happen.
"It's scary that there's a possibility that things could get cut, like even the dance team, that I'm on, could possibly be something," said Cepeda.
"They're just worried for the school in general, because they like the status that it is now and they like where the academics are now and maybe if budget cuts happen, something has to change," said Kurz.
Letts says the budget would likely be presented to the Board of Trustees in June, and by law it must be posted for 30 days for public scrutiny, so he thinks it could be July or August when it's formally approved.
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