DALTON, Ga. -- Dalton State College faces even larger state funding cuts than expected and could be forced to cap enrollment and cut programs, officials say.
On Thursday, college and university presidents across the state learned that the University System of Georgia may lose $300 million in state funding for fiscal year 2011.
That's beyond the $265 million they'd already planned to cut in 2011, said John Millsaps, spokesman for the state Board of Regents. It's among more than $1 billion that state leaders are working to cut from the overall budget in the face of shrinking revenues.
Dalton State President Dr. John Schwenn said the school had budgeted for a $1.8 million reduction and now may lose $2.4 million more. The extra cuts would bring state funding for the college down to about $10.1 million from about $15.3 million two years ago, said Dr. Schwenn.
"This is a grave, serious situation," he told members of the Student Activities Council in a meeting Friday. "A lot of times they talk about cutting fat. We've cut the fat, we've cut the muscle, (now) we're carving out bones and chopping off limbs."
Colleges and universities were asked to submit plans by today to address their portions of the additional $300 million in cuts. The Board of Regents will present those plans to state leaders Monday, Mr. Millsaps said.
"We're trying to convey what such a level of cuts would mean for the system," said Mr. Millsaps.
Scott Bailey, vice president of fiscal affairs for Dalton State, said the list of cuts includes everything from additional furlough days for employees to postponing the opening of the new career academy near Dalton High School.
Dr. Schwenn said the college addressed the earlier deficit by, among other things, eliminating continuing education and the automotive technology program and moving to close its satellite campus in Catoosa County.
He said vacancies will likely go unfilled and no new faculty will be hired, which could mean capping school enrollment at its current level of about 5,800 students, he said.
"We were going to add new faculty positions for next fall in math, science and English and we can't hire all of the people that we wanted to," he said. "We've also talked about the possibility of having to close a few academic programs."
In a worst-case scenario, Dalton State may close its marketing and management program in the School of Technology, combine some other technology programs or reduce its social work program, he said. Any of those could eliminate faculty positions, Dr. Schwenn said.
Student Government Association President Daniel Sanchez said it will be hard for the college to maintain its vision as an open-access institution if enrollment is capped.
"We need to make a stand now, saying, 'By doing this, (legislators are) not just hurting schools ... you're hurting students at the same time.'"
State Rep. Roger Williams, R-Dalton, said proposed cuts to higher education are not yet finalized.
"There will be some more meetings next week to finalize this stuff and it should be put into a bill by the end of next week," he said.
Staff writer Ashley Speagle contributed to this story.