http://ift.tt/2h2PaWIRebecca Susmarski The Register-Mail
GALESBURG — Carl Sandburg College has been surviving on stopgap money during the Illinois budget crisis, and recently it found out more funding won’t be coming its way.
The Illinois Community College Board approved the allocation of $3 million in emergency funds for community colleges, but Sandburg will not receive a penny. The state board agreed to distribute the funds to colleges with the greatest need, based on whether they met certain criteria with their operating revenues or if they would be unable to make their payrolls after Feb. 15, according to a news release from the college.
The lack of funding continues a pattern for Sandburg, which has not received regular state funding in 18 months due to the budget stalemate. The state provided the college with $500,000 in stopgap money this year and $407,000 last year, said Sandburg President Lori Sundberg.
“In 2008 we were receiving $6 million, so that kind of gives you an idea of the dramatic decline we had,” she said. “Last year we budgeted for $1.9 million (in state aid) and we got $407,000. In 2008, that was our high water mark.”
The lack of regular aid caused Sandburg to use $1 million from its reserves last year to operate. To save money, the college also left some positions open that had been abdicated due to retirement or other reasons, and instead delegated the tasks to other staff members.
Sandburg has also gone almost a full year without its adult education program, which the college suspended on Dec. 31, 2015.
“It’s (based on) a grant from the state, and the state isn’t issuing any of those grants at this point,” Sundberg said of the program. “Until there’s funding, it’s not going to come back.”
Despite the challenges of operating on less money, Sandberg has not cut any programs since the adult education program, and the college created its budget for this year expecting a lesser amount of state aid. The college budgeted for about $700,000 in state aid and received most of it with the $500,000 in stopgap money.
Sundberg did not expect to receive the remaining $200,000 from the state, but the college expects to make up the difference with other savings. The renewal rate on the college’s insurance “came in a little less” than what the college initially planned, she said, and a position opened up that the college does not intend to fill, also as a means to save money.
Such measures might be all the college can do at this point besides wait — and hope — for the budget stalemate to end.
“It makes it difficult for the college to serve our students as well as we’d like to,” Sundberg said.
Rebecca Susmarski: (309) 343-7181, ext. 261; firstname.lastname@example.org; @RSusmarski