Opinion: Legislature should not cut budget for state colleges

Editor’s note: This letter was written as an open letter to Gov. Shumlin and Vermont state legislators.
Recently, I learned Johnson State College’s budget will be cut by nearly $500,000. My child is a junior at Johnson, so I immediately wondered, “How will this impact my child’s education? How will this impact students and families considering Johnson?”
I read JSC president Barbara Murphy’s comments as she explained that the budget shortfall, for Fiscal Year 2015, results in part from a dip in enrollment and flat support from the state of Vermont. Vermont ranks near the bottom of the nation in state support for higher education.
That dip in enrollment will continue if we don’t recognize the urgency of supporting state colleges. While Vermont schools offer bucolic settings and small class sizes, state funds show support for continued improvements to programs and student services. Budget crises in any business typically don’t attract new clients, and continuously put institutions in a reactive, survival mode vs. a progressive, transformative one. Such meager state support does give a pretty strong message to Vermont students to look elsewhere. And, when they manage to find programs out of state, Vermont loses brain capital — perhaps for good.
We have been satisfied overall with Johnson, given our student’s interest in fine arts and the college’s well established art department. However, we worry that her degree will suffer from continued lackluster state support. There is no easy answer — budgets are tight everywhere. But doing the best we can for Vermont’s young adults and attracting others to Vermont is advancing our state in the long term.
Legislators, while not in session, talk to state college students back home on summer break. Listen to them. Then try explaining the lack of college funding. Or, better yet, discuss what will happen in the next session: Please, please — put funding college education on the front burner for the 2015-2016 state budget.
Laura King

Share this story:

More News
US Probation Office Uncategorized

US Probation Office Request for Proposals

US Probation Office 2×1.5 062024 RFP

Middlebury American Legion Uncategorized

Middlebury American Legion Annual Meeting

Middlebury American Legion 062024 1×1.5 Annual Meeting

Sports Uncategorized

MAV girls’ lax nets two triumphs

The Mount Abraham-Vergennes cooperative girls’ lacrosse team moved over .500 with a pair o … (read more)

Share this story: