State cuts budget for community colleges

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Governor Phil Bryant made several rounds of budget cuts and community colleges are taking a hit. Some institutions are losing millions of dollars in funding. East central community college is one of the schools impacted.

"Roughly 62 percent of our budget [is being cut]," says ECCC President Dr. Billy Stewart.

East Central Community College is working to find a way to offset state budget cuts.

"Our commitment is to teaching and learning," says Dr. Stewart. "We want to be sure what ever we cut doesn't have a negative impact on the classroom."

But just about everything is on the table. Salary and benefits make up about about 70 percent of East Central's budget, but layoffs aren't in the books.

"As openings occur, we'll just simply evaluate those to see if they're essential to the college," says Dr. Stewart. "Unfortunately that means some departments are going to have to absorb a cut."

Raising tuition is another possibility. Tuition has only gone up 10 percent over the last five years thanks to high enrollment. But enrollment numbers are down in recent years because the college is seeing fewer super sophomores or third year students.

"We're proud of that but unfortunately our funding formula in the state of Mississippi doesn't reward performance, it rewards enrollment," says Dr. Stewart.

That could create a larger deficit for community colleges like East Central which is already dealing with cuts totaling more than $1 million.

"The faculty and staff actually provided recommendations on budget cuts and revenue increases," says Dr. Stewart.

Like cuts in travel expenses and office supplies.

"When that only makes up about 8 percent of your budget it makes it hard to make a real big dent but it will help. Every little dollar helps," says Dr. Stewart.

East Central will announce their budget plans May 9.