The Lane Community College Budget Committee approved the 2017-2018 administrative budget after hearing hours of public comment opposing the budgets cuts to instructional programs and faculty members.
After hearing two rounds of public testimony — all opposing the proposed budget — the LCC Board of Education ultimately adopted the budget with a 6 to 1 vote. Board member Matt Keating opposed adopting the budget.
At the budget meeting, a majority proposal calculated by the faculty union, student union and classified union came up with a budget that spared cuts to faculty and proposed other cost saving measures to address the budget deficit.
However, though LCC board members echoed that no one wanted to make program cuts, they unanimously voted on the administration’s proposal that raises tuition and increases student fees after the 6-1 vote to adopt the budget.
Requests, public comments and countless emails proposing alternatives to program and faculty cuts were acknowledged by the board, but the board moved ahead with the controversial budget decision.
During the previous May 10 meeting, the budget committee asked the administration to address “gray areas” of the budget, however, the administration’s budget did not reflect lost tuition revenue that would result in cuts made to religion, philosophy, respiratory therapy and the geographic information systems programs. The faculty union has been requesting the college administration calculate these numbers be calculated for several weeks.
Full-time philosophy instructor Jeffrey Borrowdale, testified twice at the meeting to ask for the religion and philosophy programs to be considered as a separate line item in the proposed budget. He said there’s a high demand and a high fill rate for philosophy and religion classes, which was 95 percent in 2016.
At the end of the meeting, board chair Rosie Pryor told the crowd of 50 or more in attendance that she was against raising tuition after having voted for it. She said the board is the only group that makes the final budget decision, “whether you like it or not.” She added that policy direction for the budget is given to the president and that people should tell the board if they don’t like the direction.
Then Pryor directly addressed public comments heard during public comments saying, “to characterize us as coming from a place of privilege is unfair and insulting,” she said.
After the meeting Pryor spoke to Eugene Weekly, saying, “I’m concerned about raising tuition another $7 per credit hour.” But when asked what could have been done to avoid a tuition hike she said the administration would have had to look at deeper cuts, and, those alternatives were never calculated. “If faculty had helped us retain the students that we enrolled fall term to winter term we would have more than a million more dollars in our budget,” Pryor said. “Everybody touches students. Enrollment is everybody’s job. I don’t think anybody is to blame, and I’m tired of talking about blame.”
Lane Community College’s Facebook page has dozens of comments and complaints about the lack of services and limited hours in the enrollment department.
“It’s like saying somebody in your family lost their job, but nobody wants to give up Netflix and getting nails done and getting fancy hair cuts,” Pryor said. “Nobody wants to change their lifestyle we don’t have enough money to support our lifestyle.”