Governor Kathleen Sebelius has told community colleges and universities governed by the Kansas Board of Regents to prepare their current budget for a 2 percent cut.

    The state did not receive the amount of state income taxes they projected for 2008, so college campuses across the state are adjusting their approved budgets for the 2009 fiscal year, which began on July 1. Sebelius also asked higher education facilities to look at ways to reduce spending by 5 percent for 2010.


    Governor Kathleen Sebelius has told community colleges and universities governed by the Kansas Board of Regents to prepare their current budget for a 2 percent cut.
    The state did not receive the amount of state income taxes they projected for 2008, so college campuses across the state are adjusting their approved budgets for the 2009 fiscal year, which began on July 1. Sebelius also asked higher education facilities to look at ways to reduce spending by 5 percent for 2010.
    President Richard Burke said the 2009 budgets were already planned and approved by the governor but the lower-than-expected state revenue called for these changes.
    "We have made the adjustments to our budget and cut the 2 percent. We're fine," he said.
    Nineteen community colleges submitted their new budget plan to the Regents to comply with the Governor's budget cut request.
    Each school found different ways to best curb spending.
    Postsecondary education institutions in Kansas are planning to reduce utility costs, travel expenses and equipment purchases. Delaying maintenance to buildings and the replacement of computers is also being done. 
    Education officials anticipate increased costs at a later date by deferring these purchases. 
    Colleges are also reducing faculty and staff to cut spending. This will increase class sizes or eliminate particular studies altogether. College officials said this could affect future enrollment because of decreased student attention in the classroom.
    Some universities have proposed filling full-time teaching positions with part-time teachers.    
    In order to cut 2 percent from this year's budget, DCCC decided to hire adjuncts for the theater department instead of filling it with a full-time professor.
    Burke said a 2 percent reduction was painful — but achievable. However, he said a 5 percent reduction for the following year would be more difficult.
    "That's when you have to start looking at programs, not positions," he said.
    Burke said a cut of that magnitude would most likely require personnel and program reductions and could impact the college's ability to provide a quality college experience for students.
    Jen Helfirch, a second-year cheerleader from Spearville, said she was worried that if teachers were paid less or fired, it could trickle down to the rest of the college.
    "If it affects the teachers then it might take them away from Dodge City and the students would suffer," she said. "Teachers already don't get paid enough for what they do."
    Helfirch said she was concerned that possible future cuts to programs would cause fewer out-of-state students to attend DCCC for extracurricular activities such as sports and clubs.
    "If they cut programs, there might not be enough for students to do," she said.
    Kristal Arias, a second-year student from Jetmore, said the school should consider cutting traveling expenses to lower the budget. Arias said spending on technology equipment and sports programs should not be cut.
    Depending on how the economy fairs over the next few months, Sebelius will make a final decision by December on the amount of cuts that are necessary.
    Burke said it is difficult to say what 2011 will hold, but he said the local economy was still strong in agriculture production, grain and the airplane industry.
    "I think Kansas is very healthy because of the industries we rely on," he said. "We're insulated."
   
Reach Cherise Forno at (620) 408-9931 or e-mail her at cherise.forno@dodgeglobe.com.