VSC jobs spared by smaller funding cut
By Josh O’Gorman
VERMONT PRESS BUREAU | August 14,2014
MONTPELIER — Budget cuts will not result in a loss of jobs in the Vermont State College system.
The VSC system is looking at a $122,000 cut in its appropriation from the state — a far cry from the $1 million cut the system was asked to consider two weeks ago.
“We’re very grateful for this recommendation,” said VSC Chancellor Tim Donovan, who had been asked by the Shumlin administration to analyze how the VSC system would absorb a 4 percent reduction in its $24.6 million appropriation from the state.
The analysis came on the heels of an announcement by the state officials that revenues are projected to be 2 percent less than forecast, which has left state agencies and entities looking for ways to cut their budgets one month into the new fiscal year.
At the time, Donovan said, “There’s no way to do this without it affecting people’s jobs. There’s not much else left to pinch. The only place you’ll find $1 million at this point is in people.”
During the recent Legislative session, the VSC system received a 0.5 percent increase in its appropriation, meaning the proposed 4 percent reduction would have resulted in an overall reduction of 3.5 percent.
Instead, the VSC system is looking at a $122,000 cut.
The $1 million reduction would have been a challenge for VSC. In terms of state support for its college system, Vermont ranks near the bottom, with the appropriation composing approximately 18 percent of the colleges’ overall budget.
The lion’s share of the budget is funded through tuition, making declining enrollment at some of the state colleges all the more troubling.
Lyndon State College is looking at a 14 percent drop in new students, and a 3 percent drop in overall population, according to a report given to the VSC board of trustees by Provost Kellie Bean.
At Vermont Technical College, non-nursing student enrollment is down 12 percent, according to interim President Dan Smith.
Castleton State College, which has seen steady growth for the past decade, is projected to see its enrollment level off this fall.
The $122,000 cut will be shared equally by the five colleges, Donovan said.
“It’s a little less than $25,000 per college, and the colleges should be able to absorb this hit without it affecting services to students or impacting personnel,” he said.