The stop-gap funding measure approved by lawmakers last spring left community colleges with just 27 percent of their usual state aid. That amount is almost gone. Community colleges in Illinois say they've cut frills, suspended travel, and even laid off teachers. Now they need state lawmakers to come through with funding.
That was the gist of a letter sent last week from the Illinois Council of Community College Presidents to the governor and legislative leaders.
The letter that was brief and brutal. "If this impasse continues," the letter warned, "the consequences will be profound and lasting."
They might as well have corked it into a bottle and tossed it in Lake Michigan. No one has responded.
Tom Ramage, president of both the council and Parkland College, says there’s little left to cut.
"We offer GED programs, we offer college for kids, we have daycare facilities....All those things are at-risk," he says. "For many of our communities, the community college is the hub relative to advancing yourself career-wise or supporting your family."
The continuing uncertainty is demoralizing, and taking its toll on his faculty, Ramage says.
"I just was in a meeting with our faculty yesterday, and they're saying, 'We understand why the college had to lay off eight people. But what's next? Am I next?' And the answer is: I don't know."