Parkland faces budget cuts
Published: Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 13:09
Parkland College has seen many budget cuts in its time. The 2012-2013 cuts, however, are said to be some of the largest many instructors have ever seen.
The cuts were reported to have affected the classrooms, but minimally. Although teachers’ requests for new equipment and supplies were sometimes unable to be filled, they have been able to make do with what they had.
When referring to her own department, Fine and Applied Arts Department Chair Nancy Sutton explained how they were able to deflect the negative effects of the budget cut.
“We’re a creative group, and we always find a way to make it work,” she explained. “Our number one priority is to make sure students get the education they need.”
Sutton went on to explain that teachers were able to look for new ways to save money, in some cases deferring requests for noncritical equipment until next year.
Mathematics Department Chair Geoffrey Griffiths agreed that even though the cuts meant his department couldn’t get all the new supplies they had planned on receiving, they were able to make it work.
“Although we would have liked to update our labs or put new tables and chairs in our classrooms, the computers can last one year longer,” Griffiths stated. “Our job is to make sure students are unaffected.”
State funding is determined by a number of different factors, including student enrollment and credit hours. And although Parkland College continues to see an upward climb in student enrollment rates, they receive less and less money each year. In 1977, the state of Illinois was providing almost 25 percent of Parkland’s revenue, a figure that has since dropped to 11 percent.
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the main reason Illinois’ higher education system is seeing such drawbacks is the deficit the state as a whole is currently facing. Illinois’ state budget currently has a $6.4 billion deficit in education. The state also has a projected $1.8 billion gap for the fiscal 2013 year, with no current plans to close the gap.
The sum of the budget gaps of 31 other states totals around $55 billion for the fiscal 2013 year. While this is not the worst America has seen, it is definitely one of the largest. These gaps are a result of slower and weaker tax revenues. Although the gaps are slowly beginning to close, the states are still nearly 5.5 percent under what they were prior to the recession.
From 2010 to 2011, there was an almost 7,000 student enrollment jump. With a growing number of students and less state funding, students have begun to wonder whether their tuition rates will start rising in response.
Since 2002, Parkland has raised the tuition by five dollars per credit hour for in-district students. Parkland does not currently have plans to raise tuition, which helps students that must budget how much they will have to pay for school each year.
Tuition is also kept static so that the school can balance how much revenue they have and how long they can go with it.
Although the state funding cuts were significant, Parkland staff strives to ensure that its students will continue to receive the best education possible, and that they won’t be affected by the loss of funding.