St. Petersburg College Speaks About Budget Cuts

St. Petersburg College Speaks About Budget Cuts


My name is Bill Law, and I’m the president at St. Petersburg College. Our purpose today is to reach out to the community and to alert them to the situation that we find ourselves in at St. Petersburg College and in the Florida College System. When the dust settled at the end of the legislative session, the Florida College System found itself with a $25 million dollar cut to the overall state budget, and St. Petersburg College will lose its share of that $25 million. I think if people are aware that the Florida College System serves 800,000 students and that our university partners – not only did they not get cut – they ended up with $200 odd million dollars of additional funds for next year. We’re starting to feel that for some reason the story of the Florida College System did not make it all the way through to the people who make those decisions. The result is that at St. Petersburg College having to cut the budget after, with some enrollment decreases and no additional tuition, we find ourselves faced with some really tough choices on behalf of our students. First and foremost, we would find ourselves limiting the number of courses that we make available for students to sign up for now. You know students will still be able to make a schedule. But for many of our students, they won’t be able to make a schedule that fits their work schedule. They won’t be able to make a full course schedule. And, of course, they’re trying to get through as fast as they can. They want to get to the finish line, and if we don’t have enough courses for them, they will find themselves here for another semester or indeed another year. So that would be one of the drawbacks. The second is that, I think probably for most of our students more important, is we would find ourselves cutting or reducing the amount of services we can give students beyond the classroom. At St. Petersburg College, we’ve made major commitments to supporting our students in our learning support centers where students can get tutoring and help outside of classes for virtually any subject that they study in and more importantly in our advising center where we’re trying to make sure students have the fullest amount of information, access to an advisor to help them choose a college major that will put them on a path to get to the right job, to get to the right programs, to get to the right majors that will allow them to realize the success that they’re going to need. So for all of those things, you know the impact of the cuts hits us in a variety of ways because our students are part-time students. So students who come to us part-time, they need more help, not less help. They need more focus, not less focus. They need more access to courses, not less access to courses. And we think if those of you who are part of our community would reach out to the governor and tell him this doesn’t sound right, it doesn’t sound healthy for our community. You know 90% of our students who graduate from St. Petersburg College stay in the community. So delaying that graduation makes life very difficult for everyone. When we were in the middle of a recession, the enrollment peaks. It spikes, and it goes up. People can’t find jobs so they come back to college. The sad reality is the state doesn’t have any money to pay for those students. So we tighten our belt a little more, and then we serve those students. And they succeed, but it gets tougher and tougher. Now that the money is coming back to the state, it’s very hard for us to understand why the state wouldn’t find a way to put a few more dollars into the Florida College System, make us whole, get us – keep us moving forward, and let us do the good work that we always do to serve Pinellas County. So, with that, I’m going to invite some of our students to come and give a little bit of student testimony as to what they need, what they see, and how this would impact them. Gov. Rick Scott should veto the budget items affecting the community colleges and send it back to the Legislature to have $25 million in cuts for community colleges restored for the school year of 2017 – 18. Thank you. The same thing that just keeps coming up and becomes more and more relevant is that we’re a community college. We are out here in the community. We’re the ones that are coming out here, transitioning from the military, out here coming to school to get a job, to get back out here into the work world. By cutting funds, it’s bad for business. Just bottom line, if it’s bad for business, it’s bad for veterans, anything from your EMS people to your policemen to these trade jobs such as plumbers, mechanics or anything else you need, you get them from a community college. And you want to cut that? I don’t think that’s a good idea at all. I do think that cutting the budget is really going to hurt a lot of us, not just the high school kids coming back to school or coming into school but the people that are older that are trying to go back to school and maybe they’ve decided that what they were doing before wasn’t the thing that they really want to keep doing so they’re changing. We all change. So, anyway, Gov. Scott, you’ve got to really veto this bill and send it back and make them redo it.

Author: Kevin Mason

1 thought on “St. Petersburg College Speaks About Budget Cuts

  1. "Let's Get to Work"

    By cutting funds to working people's community college and giving more money to State Scam trust fund baby school's who sit around spending their loans on Starbucks and writing humanities papers.

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