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Tech College: We can't lose more money

DULUTH - Gwinnett Technical College President Sharon Bartels on Wednesday warned Gwinnett's state legislators the school cannot afford to lose much more money.

"If next year is as frugal as this year, we will have to shut down programs and let people go," Bartels said. "The devastating thing for us is we need to be opening new programs."

So far, the college has faced roughly $1.2 million in budget cuts, but layoffs and program shutdowns haven't been necessary, Bartels said.

Gwinnett Tech focuses on providing relevant work force knowledge and training, which could help people move back into the job market, Bartels said.

"When the economy is so bad, to cut us is only going to make the condition worse," she said.

She also asked delegates to look for a way to move the sale of bonds forward for the construction of the school's Life Sciences Building, the opening of which has been delayed. If the bonds are sold in July, the earliest the building could open would be in March 2011.

Georgia Gwinnett College President Daniel Kaufman also presented his legislative priorities to the delegates.

Kaufman asked the legislators to support the budget requests from the University System of Georgia, including any special initiative funding dedicated specifically for the Lawrenceville college. Since the college opened in 2006, the state has assisted with Georgia Gwinnett's start-up costs.

Budget cuts have cost the college about $2.4 million, or 8 percent of its $30 million operating budget, which does not include tuition and fees.