Administrators are uncertain about layoffs budget_3/31_bb

By Gus Bode

Administrators are uncertain about layoffs

SIU officials still waiting for word from Springfield

Campus union officials met Friday with the SIUC administration, and the news was still the same:Layoffs are possible, but the specifics are still unknown.

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The meeting followed written notification from the administration to unions that layoffs are possible in light of budget trimming that Gov. Rod Blagojevich has asked public universities to face. The Bureau of the Budget Office is reviewing plans from universities that potentially could reduce their state funding by 8 percent for this fiscal year, which ends June 30.

The 8-percent figure, if implemented, would be taken from the entire year’s budget and applied only to the remaining months of this fiscal period, making it the equivalent of a 32-percent loss in state dollars. This amounts to about $12 million less for SIUC.

Jim Clark attended Friday’s meeting as the Illinois Education Association representative for the Association of Civil Service Employees. ACSE bargains for 525 SIUC workers who perform clerical and administrative tasks.

“What they did is repeat the same position that they had before,” Clark said. “The people who we represent are all people at the low end of the pay scale.”

University administrators statewide are expecting to learn more about their institutions’ financial future when the governor gives his budget address on April 9. In the meantime, SIUC is continuing to communicate with the budget office and waiting to hear more, Chancellor Walter Wendler said.

“We’re between a rock and a hard place,” Wendler said last week. “Our sense is that there will be some hard news coming, but we don’t want to prematurely jump to any conclusions.”

Wendler said he wishes he could give a clearer picture to University employees.

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“It really causes me a lot of concern,” he said. “We don’t know what to tell people. It’s frustrating.”

The Illinois Board of Higher Education, which worked with universities to plan for the possible cutbacks, is also waiting for the governor’s budget address, board spokesman Don Sevener said. Although the board meets this Tuesday, there probably will be little else to add to IBHE’s preparations, he said.

“It will still be a week in advance of the governor’s budget address,” Sevener said. “We won’t have much more information.”

Reporter Ben Botkin can be reached at [email protected]

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