January 27, 2010 in Idaho

Budget cuts will hit NIC students

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Betsy Russell photo

North Idaho College President Priscilla Bell makes her budget presentation to the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee on Wednesday. Students will feel the impact of budget cuts in the long term, she said; enrollments are growing with the falling economy.
(Full-size photo)

BOISE - North Idaho College students will feel the impact of state holdbacks and budget cuts, NIC President Priscilla Bell told lawmakers Wednesday, because they come at a time of sharply increasing enrollment.

For next year, Gov. Butch Otter is proposing a 4 percent cut in state funding for community colleges, and that’s after pumping an additional $1 million into the new College of Western Idaho near Boise to cover huge, unanticipated enrollment jumps, a move Bell said NIC supports.

In the short term, NIC is getting more tuition revenue than anticipated with the increased enrollment, and can handle holdbacks with “some position eliminations and deferred maintenance and that sort of thing, but over the long term, NIC students are going to feel the impact in a number of areas,” she said. Already, she said, more instructors are adjuncts or part-timers instead of full-time faculty; advisers are in short supply for student; and important building maintenance is being put off.

Asked if she’s still support the funding for CWI if it shrunk funding for NIC, Bell said the North Idaho college supported formation of CWI with the assurance that it wouldn’t come at the expense of the state’s existing community colleges.

“I submit to you that the state can make no better investment than investing in community colleges,” Bell told state lawmakers. “We are the workhorses of the higher education system.”


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