State Cuts Funding for Prairie State College

Chicago Heights, IL–(ENEWSPF)– Officials at Prairie State College (PSC) were informed that the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget will cut 2.5 percent of the college’s state funding for the current year ending June 30, 2009.

The impact on PSC is a cut of $73,404. PSC officials are working to determine exactly where the cuts will take place. Plans for expanded programs, improvements in computer technology, and professional development for faculty and staff are potential targets.

The 2.5 percent rescission will reduce statewide community college funding by $7.3 million. This follows an approved funding level for community colleges that the governor had already reduced last summer by $10 million. According to the Illinois Community College Trustees Association, with this rescission, the state funding level for all community college is more than $50 million or 15 percent below the state funding level that was received seven years ago. While state funding for universities was increased by 2.7 percent for 2009 (compared to 2008), community colleges sustained a reduction of 0.3 percent during the same time period.

When community colleges were first created in Illinois, the commitment was for the state to provide one-third of the funding. For PSC, that share has dwindled to about 12 percent. PSC President Eric Radtke said, “The erosion of state funding for Prairie State College continues to reduce our ability to serve our communities in ways they most need it in today’s struggling economy.”

The governor’s announcement followed several weeks of speculation that 8 percent reductions in current year state funded budgets could occur. The promise of even more state funding reductions could be a reality for the current fiscal year even as preparations are underway to create the Fiscal Year 2010 State budget. “A reduction of 8 percent would be devastating for Prairie State,” said Radtke.

The announcement of reduced funding comes at a time when community colleges are playing an important role in driving the economy. Community colleges provide training for local communities and develop new programs to address both current and future employment needs.

“Our job as a community college is especially important because of the rising unemployment rates and the challenging economicclimate,” said PSC Board Chair Mark Fazzini. “PSC recently held an open house, Career in a Year, as an outreach to people in the community who have lost or fear losing their jobs and are in need of quick retaining in new, higher demand jobs.”