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Co-Lin addressing over $1 million cut in state funding

Copiah-Lincoln Community College has dropped at least one sport and won’t fill vacant jobs in an effort to make up for the more than $1 million cut in state funding.

Vice President of Business Affairs Stan Patrick updated the board Thursday on the recent cuts and how they have affected Co-Lin.

“Every public agency in the state of Mississippi got some sort of cut. Revenues weren’t meeting projections,” Patrick said. “As a result, over $28 million was cut from the community colleges in Mississippi.”

Last year, Co-Lin received $12 million from the state. This year they received $10.8 million, a $1.2 million reduction in funding.

Patrick said that they were notified of the cuts in early March.

“We took about a 10 percent cut from state funding. We have over a $1 million — less than what we had last year, so we had to come together as a group and figure out what we were going to do,” Patrick said.

According to Patrick, state funds account for approximately 30 percent of the school’s budget.

As a result, tuition and fees have gone up at community colleges across the state including Co-Lin, he said.

Tuition last semester was $1,195. It jumped to $1,400 this semester.

Patrick said the college responded to the cuts by cutting the soccer program and some positions.

“We’ve probably had close to 15 positions and around $375,000 worth of payroll that has been on the books in the past that will not be there this year,” Patrick said. “We were fortunate to have people retire, so we didn’t have to lay off folks. Many schools across the state have had to fire people.”

Rather than fill the positions, Patrick said current employees will be asked to pick up the slack.

The college is also cutting travel, utility costs and equipment purchases.

“We have to get back to what we need, instead of what we want,” Patrick said. “Some schools, from a dollars standpoint, got hit harder than we did. With a major cut like this, it’s sort of a downer. We’re right in the middle of what community colleges increased in fees across the state. We’re not the most expensive, we’re not the least expensive.”

Co-Lin receives financial support from Lincoln and Copiah counties as well as Lawrence, Franklin, Jefferson, Adams and Simpson counties.

Fifteen percent of the college’s budget comes from county support.

“Our county supervisors have tried to help us as much as they can. We’ve seen increased funding from the surrounding counties,” he said. “Looking at our last fiscal year to what they’ve given us this year, funding was up more than $100,000.”

More cuts could be coming in the future, but for now Patrick said it’s time to concentrate on the students who are getting ready to start their college career.

“We’ve weathered the storm. We’re still a lot less expensive than major universities and what we can provide for those first few years of college, such as classroom size and career tech schools, universities can’t offer.”

In other business:

• The board approved the lowest bid on a three-year lease on 50 golf carts for Wolf Hollow Golf Course from Yamaha Golf Cart Co. for $113,850 dollars.

• Co-Lin will receive grant money for the Co-Lin Early Childhood Academy at the Natchez campus worth $306,929. The college will also receive a $75,000  grant for the Mississippi Apprenticeship Program.

• The board recognized three members who have given decades of service to the college: Randall Lofton of Lincoln County, 15 years: Willie Harrison of Lincoln County, 20 years, and Chuck Gilbert of Adams County 15 years.

• Otis Ridley was hired as assistant football coach at the Wesson campus.

• Stephen Pounders was hired as music instructor/auxiliary coordinator at the Wesson campus.

• Jennifer Price was hired as chemistry instructor at the Wesson campus.

• Ayannah Williams transferred position from learning resources coordinator to academic counselor at the Wesson campus.

• Samantha Speeg transfered position from academic counselor to director of enrollment services at the Wesson campus.