Wednesday, 10 February 2016 14:28

Danville Area Community College in IL to Consider Cuts, Auto Body Program at Risk

A shortfall of $3.77 million caused by the state budget stalemate will force the Danville Area Community College (DACC) Board of Trustees to consider suspending low enrollment, high cost programs at its February meeting.

At the Jan. 26 board meeting, Donald Smoot, a retired career and technical education instructor, expressed his concerns about DACC possibly suspending some of its career and technical education programming, including the auto body program his son Nathan teaches.

“I told my son you have to be aware that your position might be eliminated,” he said. “When you suspend programs, you lose some of your best instructors.”

Smoot addressed DACC President Alice Marie Jacobs, “When you cut programs, you change your legacy.”

Rather than cut programs, Smoot suggested DACC use its reserves to get through the financial crunch brought on by a lack of state funding due to the months-long the state budget impasse.

“We need to build career and technical programs,” he said.

“I imagine you suspended the corrections program because you hadn’t been paid (by the state),” he said. “But I can tell you those people need the education because they want to change their lives.”

Last month, DACC trustees approved suspending a vocational program that the college had offered for at least seven years on a contractual basis for the Illinois Department of Corrections. Five program employees were laid off, effective Dec. 31. The employment of a sixth employee, the director of educational programs, will end Sunday. The college hadn’t received payment from the state for the program since July and suspending the program and laying off the six employees saved the college $400,000 a year.

DACC still receives about $145,000 from a Perkins grant, which is based on how many career and technical education students receive Pell grant assistance.

Dave Kietzmann, vice president of instruction and student services, said the Perkins grant money comes with restrictions on how the money can be used.

A second quarter financial statement of the college’s revenue and expenditures shows a deficit of $3.77 million, which is what DACC had anticipated receiving from the state for its general operating fund and as reimbursement for its career and technical education programming.

“No money has been appropriated by the state. Until there is money appropriated for this, it is going to show zeros,” Jacobs said of the quarterly financial statement. “That will have a dramatically negative impact on how we finish the fiscal year.”

Jacobs said after the meeting the board would be considering the suspension of “low enrollment, high cost” programs at its February meeting.

She said the automotive program was suspended before – many years ago – and then it was brought back.

“Career and technical education programs are important to our community and the building of our work force,” she said.

We would like to thank Commercial-News for reprint permission.