Thursday, January 22, 2009

Higher education could face cuts of 30 percent of state funding

Louisiana colleges could potentially face huge budget cuts approaching 30 percent of the state’s funding for higher education for the 2009-2010 fiscal year that begins July 1.

This worst-case scenario could mean laying off thousands of employees, adopting four-day school weeks, eliminating academic programs, tuition increases and cutting into merit-based TOPS scholarship funds, higher education leaders said Wednesday.

“It’s a sobering time,” said Sally Clausen, state commissioner of higher education, of the second round of budget cuts following mid-fiscal year slashes just weeks ago.

LSU’s main campus alone could be in line for as much as $71 million in cuts, Chancellor Michael Martin said.

At the very worst for LSU: “Total loss of employment— faculty and non faculty — well over 1,000 jobs for sure,” Martin said.

Southern University is considering a four-day school week in addition to layoffs and furloughs, said Provost Mwalimu Shujaa.

The state Office of Planning and Budget presented a range of $212 million to $382 million in possible cuts to colleges for the upcoming fiscal year.

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