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Monday May 4th, 2015 12:01AM

Ga. colleges prepare for furloughs, layoffs

By The Associated Press
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ATLANTA - Georgia colleges are bracing for furloughs and layoffs as state officials prepare to cut millions from higher education spending in the newest round of budget reductions.

Plans submitted to the University System of Georgia by the state's 35 colleges and universities show campuses are looking to slash already thin staffs, order fewer new books and magazines for libraries, delay building repairs and increase class sizes.

State officials already are withholding 5 percent of colleges' funding for this fiscal year.

That's on top of the $238 million that was carved out of colleges' budgets last fiscal year, which ended June 30.

The 5 percent cut could grow depending on whether state tax collections continue to plummet. And the reductions come just as students prepare to return to campuses to start the fall semester.

The colleges' plans detail the impact of increasing the cut to as much as 8 percent.

UGA's plans show that an 8 percent funding cut would mean 229 layoffs, 877 eliminated course sections and nearly $1 million in reductions to the travel budget. It also could mean $2.7 million in reductions to equipment budgets.

The university already cut about 300 unfilled positions, including 121 faculty jobs.

"I greatly regret the negative impact such reductions have on our loyal faculty and staff personally, on the quality of academic offerings, and on the core missions of the University of Georgia," University of Georgia President Michael Adams wrote in a letter to employees last week. "However, we have 34,000 reasons to continue providing the very best education and support services we possibly can. These are our students who return to campus in a matter of days."

Most colleges are preparing for at least six days of furloughs for faculty and staff. Georgia State President Mark Becker sent a letter Monday saying he and his deans and vice presidents will take 12 days of unpaid leave for this fiscal year, which ends June 30.

The university's proposals also include cutting the hours the library is open, charging students for weekend use of facilities and cutting 117 jobs.

"All of us know that this next round of cuts presents new and difficult challenges for Georgia State," Becker wrote to faculty and staff. "Through hard work and creativity we will continue to move forward."

The state Board of Regents is set to examine the plans during its monthly meeting Tuesday and Wednesday and hear from system officials how the cuts will affect higher education.

Cuts at other colleges could include up to 87 layoffs at Georgia Tech; only holding summer classes Monday through Thursday at Georgia College & State University; and offering a bachelor in business administration program solely online at Georgia Southern University's Brunswick Instructional Center.
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