ORANGEBURG - Faculty and staff at S.C. State University will be required to take 10 days off without pay if the school's board of trustees accepts a set of recommendations made Wednesday to close a $6 million hole in the university's budget.
"There's no question that this is going to be painful, but it's the kind of painful process we have to go through," said Maurice Washington, chairman of S.C. State's Budget, Audit, Facilities and Grounds Committee, which voted unanimously to have the recommendations put to the full board when it meets in December.
In addition to the furloughs - which would be taken next year between Jan. 15 and May 30 - an undetermined number of temporary jobs and others held by state retirees would be eliminated. Some employees would be furloughed and have their pay cut by 10 percent.
School officials expect the impact on students and classes to be minimal because faculty and staff would be encouraged to take furlough days during periods when classes would not be held.
S.C. State president George Cooper said he knows the cuts would be painful but stressed tough choices are inevitable in the current economy.
"What we're doing is accepting the reality of where we are now," he said.
Faculty and staff had to take a seven-day furlough during the last fiscal year to help the school close a $4.2 million budget shortfall.
A series of factors has led school officials back to furloughs and job cuts again this year.
- S.C. State awarded students $1.2 million more in scholarships and fee waivers than school officials had budgeted.
- Roughly 500 students did not return to school as expected this fall, reducing funding by another $4 million.
- A 4 percent reduction in state funding cost S.C. State $729,343.
To plug that budget hole, the school's budget committee recommended:
- 10-day furloughs, which would save an estimated $1.4 million
- Job cuts and pay reductions, which would save about $1.75 million
- Using about $2.25 million in contingency, foundation and federal stimulus money
An additional $600,000 would be saved by delaying research spending and renegotiating the school's maintenance contract.
Evelyn Fields, chairwoman of the S.C. State faculty senate, said the furloughs and job cuts would be tough for her colleagues.
"We're never happy when we have to go through this type of financial discord," she said. "We certainly understand the position the university is in. We want to lessen the impact on any teaching and learning."
This summer, S.C. State trustees raised tuition to $8,460 per year, an 8.4 percent jump in part to offset the reductions in state support.
Budget committee members said they must find a way to put the university on a more sound financial footing to prevent more pain after this fiscal year.
Their recommendations included a directive that the administration show how it would produce a balanced budget without one-time funds, such as stimulus money.
Administration officials said such a budget almost certainly would include more staff reductions.
But board members said the school must, at a minimum, get a sense of what would be required to balance the budget without money it can't count on.
"I fear if we don't do that, we'll be right back trying to Band-Aid the problem," said Robert Nance, a trustee who serves on the budget committee.