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Georgia Gwinnett College facing budget cuts, furloughs

Staff Photo: John Bohn — Georgia Gwinnett College third-year student Jaclyn Bailey, of Flowery Branch walks in the quad at GGC during a Tuesday afternoon class change. GGC is facing a possible $2.7 million budget cut.

Staff Photo: John Bohn — Georgia Gwinnett College third-year student Jaclyn Bailey, of Flowery Branch walks in the quad at GGC during a Tuesday afternoon class change. GGC is facing a possible $2.7 million budget cut.

LAWRENCEVILLE — A state budget proposal could lead to swift cuts at Georgia Gwinnett College, including up to eight furlough days in the coming months.

Leaders are asking legislators to restore the $2.7 million in the college’s special initiative funding cut in the governor’s proposal of the supplemental 2013 budget, which runs through this summer.

“We’re sympathetic to (Gov. Nathan Deal’s) responsibility to balance the budget, but to take that much out of our budget ... is extremely difficult without impacting people,” College President Dan Kaufman said of the furloughs, which will cause professors and other staffers to take a pay hit. “Our goal is to hold this as harmless for our students as we can.”

The college, currently in its sixth year at the Lawrenceville campus, has grown dramatically in a short time, causing legislators to set aside extra funds from the formulaic outlay for universities to accommodate the growth.

Without the supplement, the college would receive funding based on two-year-old student data. But Merri Brantley, the college’s director of external affairs, pointed out that enrollment has nearly doubled in that time to about 9,400 students.

“Obviously, if we lose the money, something is going to happen,” Brantley said.

Since the college is near the end of its term, the time is short to make drastic cuts, she said, which could mean nearly two weeks worth of furlough days for the entire faculty and staff.

Administrators are also considering cutting campus security, freezing all hiring and travel and reducing library hours. But with more than 80 percent of the college’s budget tied to salaries, Brantley said the options are slim.

“There is no extra money floating out there,” she said.

Like other universities across the state, officials have already cut 3 percent of their budget and they are expecting another 2 percent cut, which would mean another $1.4 million drop in the total $35.4 million state subsidy.

But Brantley said the local college is the only one facing the additional $2.7 million.

“The unexpected budget cut puts us in a very difficult situation,” Kaufman said, adding that another $5 million reduction is proposed in the Fiscal Year 2014 spending plan. “There’s no flexibility because our funds have pretty much been committed.”

Last week, local legislators were able to get a $500,000 increase to the governor’s proposed budget, when the House pass its version.

Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, said the funding will be on local senators’ minds as they consider the document.

“Of course, the whole delegation is working behind the scenes to restore as much money as we can,” she said, as subcommittee hearings resumed Tuesday.

Comments

JHogan 1 year, 2 months ago

$2.7 million is less than 10% of the money that the Falcon's owner is demanding from the public for his new playhouse, to replace the perfectly good one they now have.

This is a classic case of misplaced priorities. There should be no question whether or not the school is financed; the football stadium is in dead last position for any unused public funds.

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jack 1 year, 2 months ago

Actually, it is less than 1%.
But that doesn't change the validity of your point.

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BuzzG 1 year, 2 months ago

Government can learn to do with less, just like the rest of us.

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kevin 1 year, 2 months ago

They can thank the wasted millions on a sports complex instead of putting that money into teaching in the classrooms. Poor choice of priorities from their board. Greed always trumps righteousness.

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ggcmom 1 year, 2 months ago

The school has grown without regard to their ability to support the increased enrollment. Now they are trying to play catch up and want us to fund it. The money they spent on new buildings and a sports complex should have been put into services for the students already enrolled. Adequate parking and support staff (such as financial aid and registrars office) should have been priorities. They should shelve plans for the new building and additional majors until they can take care of the programs already in place.

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kevin 1 year, 2 months ago

Look who is running the place, including the Board. But then why should they care. It isn't their tax money (maybe a very small amount if they live in that county).

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pcjohn 1 year, 2 months ago

Wouldn't it be nice to have the millions that were peed away on Coolray stadium thanks to Bert Nasuti and the rest of the slime on the BOC???

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JHogan 1 year, 2 months ago

@ggcmom: I am very puzzled by your post.

Elsewhere on this website I am sure that I have seen several charts which show the growth of the student body at GGC, from ~188 in year one to over 5,000 (?) last year.

Education is a valuable asset. In my opinion, Gwinnett County did a very good thing when they created GCC.

This is one of the most diverse local governing areas in the United States; only New York City is more culturally diverse than Gwinnett Country, Georgia. I beleive that something like 53 languages and major local dialects are spoken in the homes of students in Gwinnett County schools. Hey, maybe we could get a grant from the State Department for Exhibition of Principles in Modern Democracy. (because that's what it is)

The more valuable assets our citizens have the richer we are as an area. I'll take 1,000 graduates a year over any sports franchise, any time.

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ggcmom 1 year, 2 months ago

@JHogan: I'm not sure how to respond because it doesn't appear that we are talking about the same thing. Yes, education is a valuable asset. I don't disagree with that. And yes, the enrollment has skyrocketed. Which is exactly the problem. They have added students that they do not have the infrastructure to support. There is a terrible lack of building space, an equally terrible lack of parking, and a shortage of staff to run support services like financial aid and the registrar's office. My thought is simply that they their spending strategy should have included infrastructure growth at the same pace as student growth. Instead, it seems that the administration was more interested in growing numbers (perhaps to get more budget dollars?) than they are in serving the needs of the students. And now they are building a nice sports complex. They should put that, along with the new allied health sciences building on hold until they can address the budget needs and fund what is truly important.....education!

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kevin 1 year, 2 months ago

Only one student waking between classes? Wow! What a big day. How much was spent on the sports complex?

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RiggaTony 1 year, 2 months ago

They should just close that liberal indoctrination center down completely and cut our losses. Everyone (who doesn't listen to mainstream media) knows that colleges and universities are nothing but liberal communist elitist breeding grounds. Think about three of the greatest Americans of all time - Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Ronald Reagan. Did any of them go to college? No. I didn't either, I turned out fine.

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Why_not 1 year, 2 months ago

RiggaTony is another of the far-right worshippers of the likes of Limbaugh and Hannity. No wonder the republican party is in trouble.

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cwkimbro 1 year, 2 months ago

@ggcmom, I too was a bit confused by your opinion. I think the problem is what you have characterized of the school has been true since year 2. It has been constantly growing and constantly trying to keep up, but that is also what made it is today for your child. For there to be space for your child... someone could have made the same arguments just 3 years ago that wouldn't have made room for them. To me the main difference now is your child is already there, but I know there is still more unmet demand for the school to meet.

The reason GGC is growing like it is, is simply because it was long overdue. The demand was there and previously ignored in big numbers before it was built. KSU is a great comparison it got to grow up with Cobb and it is a smaller county. The main reason GGC seems to be having financial trouble is the funding formulas are troublesome for any school with any rapid growth (or rapid decrease for that matter).

Education is important, but it is only important for those it can reach. That will always increase the pressure to meet demand.

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ggcmom 1 year, 2 months ago

All I'm saying is that when a business expands, they have to continue to meet the needs of the existing customers as well as the new customers they are reaching out to. Otherwise, none of the customers are going to be satisfied. And that is what happened at GGC. They grew in students but not in services. So instead of a small student body getting outstanding services, a large student body is getting only cut rate service. Imagine enjoying shopping at a local grocer. They give you personal attention. They have plenty of parking. If you need anything, there is always someone at the customer service desk. The check out lines are short. Then they decide to double the size of the store but don't add additional parking or hire more employees. If you're lucky enough to find a parking place and can get inside the store, you find that the shelves are low on stock. The check out lines are long and there is no one at customer service. That is what it is like at GGC now. I'm not saying they shouldn't expand, but they need to do it responsibly and with planning.

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