Facing a more than $3 million deficit, Grambling State University plans to increase faculty teaching loads while requiring furloughs, provide incentives for 15 faculty members to retire and possibly even shutter the Grambling Laboratory Schools.
Interim President Cynthia Warrick announced the drastic measures to help cash-strapped Grambling regain sound financial footing during a meeting with faculty and staff on campus Thursday.
She was quick to note that the deficit is just for this year, and she named several other schools facing similar financial issues this year.
“We’re not in this by ourselves,” she said in the meeting, of which the university posted a video on YouTube.
Warrick attributed much of the immediate problem to the university’s drastic decrease in enrollment this fall.
The university’s fall enrollment is 4,504 — down 11 percent from last year. Based on the tuition rate, Warrick estimated the university is out $3.7 million.
But she also laid blame with the Louisiana Legislature and Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration.
“State budgets have been cut — all these Republican governors have decided they can balance their budgets on higher education,” she said.
State funding for higher education has been drastically reduced in Louisiana through repeated cuts in recent years. According to the national Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Louisiana’s per-student higher education funding fell more than any other state’s between fiscal 2008 and 2014, plunging 43 percent.
Warrick said she’s hopeful the state will step in and provide $762,000 for Grambling’s Laboratory Schools to stay open past May .
“It will be up to the Legislature and the governor and the Louisiana Board of (Elementary and Secondary) Education,” Warrick said. “I don’t think anyone’s going to do anything about it unless we tell them we’re going to close those laboratory schools.”
Grambling’s exigency plan is expected to be presented to the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors at its December meeting.
Just a year ago, the university drew national attention after its football team went “on strike” in protest of dilapidated facilities and equipment, far-away road games and the firing of a popular football coach.
Administrators had cut funding from athletics to help keep the academic side solvent.
The UL System recently announced the start of a search for a permanent Grambling president, which Warrick has expressed interest in.
A new leader is expected to be named in April, according to the system’s latest timeline.