With the legislative session coming to an end this month, the Florida A&M University Board of Trustees will meet Wednesday and Thursday still trying to figure out what programs may be affected by budget cuts.
“We will know the percentage that we’ll have to cut at the end of the legislative session, which is sometime around April 30,” said Provost Cynthia Hughes-Harris.
Hughes-Harris said that until the Legislature confirms exactly what will be appropriated to higher education, it is unclear how FAMU will be affected. She added that once the Legislature makes its appropriations, the administration will know how much money the school will receive on July 1. They will also know how much has been cut from the previous budget.
Hughes-Harris said administration officials are in the process of looking at what could be cut. She said although they don’t know what programs will receive cuts, not all cuts will be academic.
“What the cuts mean is they will only give us a certain amount of money and that will be x percent less than what they gave us last year,” Hughes-Harris said, “so it’s not that we’re going to cut money, it’s just they’re only going to give us a certain amount of money.”
That has been a familiar pattern in recent years, Student Body President Gallop Franklin.
“For the last couple of years what we’ve done with budget cuts is cut evenly across the top,” Franklin said. “If the budget cuts are extreme, FAMU will try to support signature programs,” he said. The programs that aren’t as productive may be shaved down to transfer funds to the programs that make FAMU a hallmark university.
“None of our budgets or projections are going to be definite until the legislative session is over because they do the budget for the entire state and we are a state agency,” said Franklin.
Some students are also worried about how they will be affected if the budget decreases.
“My tuition is paid with financial aid so I’m worried that I may not be able to stay in school if the tuition keeps increasing, and money for financial aid is cut,” said Erika Price, a second-year political science student from Jacksonville.
“If the budget cut percentage is high,” Hughes-Harris said there could possibly be layoffs.
She said there are rules that guide layoffs, and the rules are based on what category the employee falls in. She also said, with faculty the last group of people to get laid off are full-time, tenured faculty. The first people to get laid would be adjuncts, visiting, part-time and temporary professors.
“We would follow the regulations in terms of which people would be let go first,” said Hughes-Harris.
Not only are will there be layoffs, Hughes-Harris also said they are looking at cost control, and there will be four-day work weeks this summer to save money on energy. It hasn’t been discussed whether or not the four-day work week will be implemented in the fall.
Faculty research also brings money to the university, Hughes-Harris said. She said they are encouraging faculty to engage in research and submit grants, and get funded for the grants to increase revenue.
“There are a lot of grants out there, thanks to the Obama administration,” Hughes-Harris said.
Hughes-Harris said the university won’t know anything for certain until after the legislature makes its final decisions. The Board of Trustees will then decide whether to meet on campus or have a call meeting to discuss how to handle the possible cuts.