At the beginning of the year, Black Hawk College officials made plans to cut 17 full-time employees due to a lack in state funding.
On February 23rd, teachers spoke out to the Board of Trustees after the final arrangements were made in making cuts that will go into effect at the end of the spring semester. Per Black Hawk college president, Dr. Betty Truitt, “this is the third phase of cuts.”
The first phase of cuts was made “back in 2015, in our small business development center out by South Park mall.”
The second phase of cuts were made at East Campus in Kewanee, when the men’s and women’s basketball teams were eliminated, along with the women’s volleyball team. These athletic programs were cut because “we did not have facilities that were Black Hawk College owned, so we were paying rental fees, and cleaning fees,” said Dr. Truitt.
“Here at the Quad Cites Campus, our athletic director (Gary Huber), has put together a very large budget plan for the athletics area, and many of those students (athletes), only get partial scholarships, so we are running our athletic programs at a profit, and it adds a lot to our enrollment numbers.”
State funding is simply not available like it was in the past. Vice president of finance and administration, Steve Frommelt said, “The state funding that we normally receive for the school was cut down by 6 million dollars in 2016, and 4 million dollars in 2017. “
“We would have had to have raised tuition 60 plus dollars per credit hour to cover the absence in state funding.”
One of the departments that was hit the hardest by this was the art department, and many people were left wondering how specific programs and professors were selected. According to Dr. Truitt, these were instructional decisions coming up from the five point six committee (includes both administration and faculty members), which has been meeting for months, with input from the deans and the vice president of instructions.
“In times of budget crisis some of those plans had been laid, this has been in discussions for quite some time with that committee which involves both faculty and administration.”
Board of Trustees member, Douglas Strand said, “These are not decisions that we like to make, and while a lot of people want to put the blame on us, it really comes down to the state not having enough money.”
“With how much money we have lost there is nothing else we can do, and unfortunately we are left to make business decisions that have a negative impact on people’s lives.”
The programs that have been cut will no longer be available to future students at Black Hawk, but students that were lucky enough to already be enrolled in these programs will get to finish them.
As for the possibility of the programs returning someday, Dr. Truitt said, “As soon as budget funding comes through it would depend on the amount and consistency of (funding) before the programs would be considered for reinstatement.”
The state of Illinois has been without a budget now for more than 600 days in a row.
There are ways that this could be prevented from happening again. Make a call to our state representatives, senators, or even Bruce Rauner himself, and tell them why you think state run community colleges should receive more funding. If state funding continues to fall at this rate, then this may not be the last time that we see cuts that hurt our school.