Budget plan up for vote

By Eric Krol

NIU continues to brace itself for today’s expected budget cut, but it will not be chopping summer classes.

After a marathon session Thursday night, the state legislature is set to vote today on a compromise which will result in a $2.5 million budget cut at NIU.

In a Friday afternoon interview, NIU President John La Tourette said he was still learning the specifics of the agreement. “The problem is getting a handle on it,” La Tourette said.

The legislative compromise initially seemed to limit NIU’s flexibility in dealing with the decision, he said, but the situation was being cleared up.

La Tourette said there might be some adjustments in the schedule for the summer session, but the number of classes offered will be the same as originally planned.

One of NIU’s options is to condense the eight weeks of classes into seven. “It would allow a savings of about $2 million over the two fiscal years,” La Tourette said.

NIU could lengthen class periods and add Friday classes as a means of cutting the eighth week, he added.

However, the entire Board of Regents system might not be so lucky. Chancellor’s assistant Cheryl Peck said from a system-wide perspective, the budget cuts “could curtail substantially the number of summer school classes.”

Peck said the issue will be discussed in further detail at next week’s meeting.

Chancellor Roderick Groves spoke before the state appropriations committee, saying the Regency schools are prepared to help resolve the financial crisis.

“What I personally find most painful, however, is to see educational opportunity, in good years and bad, being steadily whittled away in this state,” Groves said. “I think it is a mistake and the state will come to regret it.”

Groves also told the committee the cut threatens to wipe out the health insurance salary offset which universities had been planning for faculty since July.