Budget impasse has Waubonsee looking for ways to save programs

 
 
Updated 11/19/2015 6:11 PM

Waubonsee Community College is planning to shift about $1 million in its education fund to keep several programs afloat this year while the state holds up the money that helps pay for them.

And it will do the same in its operations and maintenance fund, to cover $1 million in bills for equipment ordered before the college knew state money for it would be withheld this long.

 

The college board Wednesday gave David Quillen, vice president of finance and operations, the go-ahead to identify specific cuts and present them at its December meeting.

The move will ensure the Adult Education, Small Business Development Center and the Career and Technical Education program continue through June 30, the end of the college's fiscal year.

"If we were to discontinue these programs, we fell that it would negatively impact our community," Quillen said. The Adult Education program has 3,000 students.

The situation has been brought about by Illinois' lack of a budget. Much of the money in play comes from the federal government, but flows through the state's hands. The state agencies don't have the authority to disburse it, because they haven't received appropriations.

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He did not recommend using money in reserves, per board policy, Quillen said.

"We think that (cuts) is the only prudent and conservative approach to take at this time," Quillen said.

The education-fund money could come from several retirements; not filling empty positions; delaying purchases of equipments; further limiting out-of-state travel; and reassessing some programs, Quillen said.

"It makes me sad, but we have to do it," Trustee Rebecca Oliver said.

"The fact that we have not received those federal grant monies is what took us by surprise," college President Christine Sobek said.

The gaps

When it made its 2016 budget, the college expected to receive:

• $900,000 from the federal government for its Adult Education program, which includes GED preparation courses, English as a Second Language instruction, literacy programs and courses that improve basic reading, writing and mathematics skills, especially for people who did not finish high school;

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

• $55,000 in federal Perkins grant money for vocational education, and $300,000 from the state for its career and technical program; and

• $120,000 in state and federal money for the business center. It provides advice and courses for starting and running businesses.

Also, the college has not received an expected $5 million credit-hour grant from the state. That money was designated for one-time, nonrecurring expenses, including the equipment, according to Quillen. The rest of the spending has been postponed.

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