LBWCC needs to cut $799K

Published 5:38 pm Thursday, December 18, 2008

Wayne Bennett, interim president at Lurleen B. Wallace Community College, said Monday’s announcement of proration is going to result in “painful” decisions starting in the next academic year.

Monday, Gov. Bob Riley announced a 12.5 percent rate of proration in the state’s education budget.

Although the sting of proration will be lessened by the withdrawal of $218 million from the state’s Rainy Day Fund, that still results in approximately a 9 percent cut in funding for Alabama’s schools.

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Bennett said, as a result of Monday’s announcement, that LBW will have cut more than $799,000 from this year’s budget.

He said the school’s budget revision will need to be submitted to the state by Jan. 9, at which point new president Dr. Herbert Riedel will have taken over at the college.

“We’ve got to cut that amount out of our budget between now and the end of the summer term,” Bennett said. “We’re working on a plan, but it’s going to be painful and it’s going to be difficult. You just can’t make this level of cuts without it showing.

“We’re going to try and do what we can to protect the needs of our students, but these are going to be hard decisions.”

Bennett maintained that the school would fulfill any contractual obligations through the summer. He cautioned, however, that some payroll cuts may have to take place before the next academic year.

“I don’t anticipate having to let anyone go during the spring term,” Bennett said. “We’re a people business, and we can’t provide our services without people. However, from summer and thereafter, all of our options have got to be on the table.”

In order to make the cuts in this year’s budget, Bennett said the school would look at limiting travel and spending.

He also explained that LBW may have to take “a serious look at savings for summer school.”

“We don’t believe we’ll have to cut the program entirely,” he said. “But we’re going to have to look at some serious revisions.”

One possible solution to the budget crisis was taken off the table when Alabama Postsecondary Chancellor Bradley Byrne announced Dec. 12 there would be no increase in tuition. Bennett says that right now LBW is taking a wait and see attitude before determining what specific cuts will need to be made.

“Dr. Riedel and I are working together to find solutions,” he said. “We’re going to have to be stewards of the state’s money and live within our means.

“I will say that if the economy does not improve, we are very likely looking at some personnel cuts after the end of this year.”