News

Waiting for the ax to fall

by AMANDA WINTERS
Sequim Gazette

Big changes could come to Peninsula College under Gov. Christine Gregoire’s proposed operating budget.

 

Peninsula College President Tom Keegan said the budget proposes a 17-percent reduction in operating expenses for the college and a 10-percent increase in tuition for the 2011-2012 and the 2012-2013 school years. Last year the college cut 4 percent in operating expenses and increased tuition 7 percent.

 

“I’m concerned about the effect of these large tuition increases on students’ ability to access education,” he said.

 

While specifics won’t be known until a final budget is approved by the state Legislature later in the spring, Keegan said college officials are beginning to plan as if the governor’s budget won.

 

“We’re having record enrollment levels right now and I think the 17-percent cut means we won’t be able to offer all the programs and services we do,” he said.

 

Keegan met with faculty and staff over the past week to get their input and brief them on the budget situation.

 

The scope of the cuts in the budget would mean Peninsula College would have fewer services, courses and programs offered to students and positions would have to be eliminated, he said.

 

Peninsula College serves as the door to higher education for the area, he said, and the cuts and increase in tuition threaten their ability to keep that door open.

 

Despite a grim outlook, Keegan said the college’s mission and focus will remain the same.

 

“We are not going to sacrifice quality or academic rigor,” he said. “We will continue to invest in our faculty and staff.”

Reach Amanda Winters at awinters@sequimgazette.com.

 

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