Retired presidents say protect Nevada community colleges in budget cuts
Five retired community college presidents have sent a letter to the governor and members of the Board of Regents urging them to protect those institutions from being unfairly penalized by budget cuts.
“The system funding formula that has been in use since 2013 has diverted funds away from community colleges to protect university budgets,” they wrote. “Adjustments to meet any projected system shortfall should therefore be made to assure our community college students are not penalized.”
They pointed out that the average state support for university students is now higher than the support of anyone attending community colleges. Yet, they noted that universities have more funding sources outside state funding and are better able to make adjustments when funding is cut.
But in times of recession, they said community college enrollments increase as students seek better opportunities by improving their job skills.
They pointed out that community colleges are better positioned to respond to the needs of displaced workers and provide their students the skills to rejoin the workforce.
“Available state resources should be redistributed accordingly and the most nimble, student-serving institutions in the system, the colleges, should be carefully protected,” they wrote.
They urged the governor and regents to set the funding level at each institution at the 2019 level and make cuts from there. They called for a temporary 20 percent pay cut for all employees in the system who make more than $160,000.
They said all funding including for athletics and residence halls should be considered available for reductions and there should be a freeze on new hires.
State scholarships should be put into base budgets, they wrote and the only new programs considered in the coming two years should be those that are part of job readiness initiatives.
Finally, they said community college students shouldn’t face any tuition increases.
The letter was signed by five former presidents with decades of service in running Nevada’s community colleges: Anthony Calabro, Western Nevada College, 12 years; Carol Lucey, WNC, 14 years; John Gwaltney, Truckee Meadows Community College, nine years; Maria Sheehan, TMCC, eight years; and Ron Remington, Great Basin College and College of Southern Nevada, a total of 15 years.