Eye On Boise

LCSC will ‘try hard not to shift the burden to students’ with state budget cuts, prez says

Dene Thomas, president of Lewis-Clark State College, presents her budget to the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee on Monday morning. (Betsy Russell)
Dene Thomas, president of Lewis-Clark State College, presents her budget to the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee on Monday morning. (Betsy Russell)

Dene Thomas, president of Lewis-Clark State College, told lawmakers, "Our goal is to train and educate productive citizens," and said, "We are an engine for economic development in north-central Idaho." Furthermore, she said, "We are the most affordable four-year college or university in Idaho." The average high school GPA of LCSC students, she said, is 2.95. "We are very proud of the fact that we take average and below-average students and get above-average performance." She noted high rates of exam success for graduates in nursing, radiology tech programs, social work and teaching. The college has some unique features, she noted, including offering instruction in the Nez Perce language. "We are the only institution in the world to offer it," she said, and LCSC will continue to do so in spite of budget cuts.

Those cuts so far have brought fewer course offerings, such as offering a class once a year instead of both semesters; cutbacks in operating expenses; and cutting and holding open positions. The college has absorbed occupancy costs for its new Sacajawea Hall, as the state allocated no money for that. Thomas said her plan for coping with looming budget cuts next year includes increasing class sizes, reducing athletic scholarships - though the school is nationally ranked in every sport - and deferring maintenance spending. No area will be exempt from scrutiny for personnel savings, she said, and low-demand programs will be eliminated. However, she said, affordability for students will remain a top priority "to the best of our ability," and LCSC will "try hard not to shift the burden to students."




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