Dr. Doug Darling, president of Lake Region State College says they have had to take a long, hard look at each and every way the college could weather budget shortfalls the state is experiencing.

Dr. Doug Darling, president of Lake Region State College says they have had to take a long, hard look at each and every way the college could weather budget shortfalls the state is experiencing.

Cuts are painful – plain and simple.
Cuts impact individuals and groups. However, Darling states that although changes are ahead no programs will be cut, not if he can help it.

The college’s forecast for Fiscal Years 2016 and 2017 has changed considerably from when the biennial budget was approved. The Governor’s 4.05 percent retroactive budget cut, along with less than expected revenue collections, together create a budget shortfall of almost $1.5 million through June 30, 2017.  

LRSC is facing the same situation that all the other colleges and universities are facing, therefore the Administrative Council at LRSC has examined areas to cut costs and increase efficiencies.

The directive from the NDUS Chancellor was clear.  LRSC must not cut core services to students, the college must not sacrifice the quality of education, and must not make cuts that could impact retention and course completion rates.  In addition, colleges and universities will not and cannot increase tuition or student fees to offset the decrease in revenue.   

First round
In the first round of budget reductions to meet the 4.05 percent allotment, LRSC cut lines for extraordinary repairs, capital projects, travel, equipment, salary increases, and delayed filling of open positions.  These cuts totaled $678,568.

Therefore, when Lake Region State College examined where reductions needed to occur, they looked at activities that impact the fewest without impacting recruitment and retention of students.

Music classes cut
After carefully considering all available courses of action, it was decided that the college will discontinue the offering of music courses and will not renew the instructor’s part-time faculty contract.  Students registered for music classes this fall will be re-advised.  The dedicated music room and the instruments will be preserved and safeguarded in hopes that the program can be re-introduced when it becomes feasible to do so.

Darling explains, “Four years ago I added music classes to our curriculum in hopes that students would come here to Lake Region to study and perform, one day turning those classes into a program that would draw students to our college, however, that has not materialized.”
Before adding the music courses, students with music interests were encouraged to take part in community orchestra, Elks Band, and other organizations. That will continue and Darling hopes that if the interest is there, college credit could be offered for that involvement.

Other cuts
Unfortunately, music isn’t alone in the budget shortfall. The college also has cut in other areas and is considering additional changes.
•In Housing, they will be making some minor adjustments to the restrooms to make North Hall co-ed. This will allow every dorm room to be filled regardless of the gender of the applicant
•In Northwood, they will be closing the Farm Business Management office and will not renew the instructor’s contract.

Additional cuts may have to occur. It is always very difficult to make decisions that affect members of our campus community. We will continue to explore additional ways to meet the financial challenges in front of us.   

LRSC expects to weather this financial setback. We’ve dealt with issues like this before and persevered without impacting the quality education provided to tomorrow’s workforce.