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2009 August 26 - 12:00 am

MONEY TREE: Wyoming Community College Budget Cuts Outlined

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — All seven Wyoming community colleges are cutting their budgets in line with Gov. Dave Freudenthal’s request that state agencies reduce spending by 10 percent this year.

Planned cuts to state-funded spending out of the colleges’ 2010 budgets add up to $8.6 million, according to budget cut summaries the colleges have provided to the Wyoming Community College Commission. The biggest cuts are at the largest schools — $1.8 million at Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne and $1.9 million at Casper College.

In addition, Central Wyoming College in Riverton is cutting $1 million; Eastern Wyoming College in Torrington, $673,000; Northwest College in Powell, $1.07 million; Northern Wyoming Community College District in Sheridan and Gillette, $1.1 million; and Western Wyoming College in Rock Springs, $1.2 million.

Statewide, at least 24 jobs at the colleges are being eliminated or aren’t being filled.

The state provides more than 60 percent of the colleges’ funding and local taxes cover most of the balance. The cuts add up to slightly less than 10 percent of state funding for community colleges, the college’s chief financial officer, Matt Petry, said.

Additional cuts are being made to college system-wide programs to achieve 10 percent. They include $209,000 from Wyoming Public Television and $347,650 from a program that forgives the education loans of students who work as teachers in Wyoming after attending the colleges.

Jobs being eliminated at the colleges include vacant positions: six at Laramie County Community College, four at Eastern Wyoming College, three in the Northern Wyoming Community College District and an unspecified number at Northwest College.

In addition, Northwest reported that it is eliminating a division head and Central Wyoming College in Riverton reported it is cutting 10 positions including the dean of its Jackson Campus.

Many of the colleges are facing rapid enrollment growth even as they’re cutting spending.

At Central Wyoming College, enrollment was up 14 percent in 2007-08 and 9 percent in 2008-2009. The college expects a 15 to 20 percent enrollment increase in the upcoming year, President Jo Anne McFarland wrote in her budget cut summary to the college commission.

Eastern Wyoming College expects 11 to12 percent enrollment growth this year, President Tom Armstrong said.

“It’s kind of like a double-whammy,”Armstrong said. “You get the enrollment going up and you’re trying to increase the services and maintain the quality — and that’s a challenge.”

The colleges mostly have taken the cuts in stride, Petry said.

“I think that they recognize they are to a large extent state-funded, like a state agency is, and they are therefore subject to the same cuts,” he said.

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