Like all state agencies, our schools are still adjusting to the latest round of budget cuts and facing the possibility of even deeper reductions in the coming year. Educators are warning these cuts will have impacts far beyond the classroom. You can add the new president of Truckee Meadows Community College to that growing chorus.
Dr. Maria Sheehan says the size of cuts anticipated next year may be difficult to recover from. And, she says, it will impact the local economy. Unlike most of the institutions in the state's higher education system, the student body at TMCC continues to grow rapidly. Students come here to get up to speed on the core courses, English, math and sciences, credits they can transfer when they move on to a four year school. They also come to get specific training for jobs in local industry. Some of those programs could be in jeopardy.
At a taping of our public affairs program, "It's Not Just Politics" new Sheehan said the anticipated cuts next year would mean cutting programs, perhaps turning away as many as 2,000 students. And, she says, she's not sure many in the community realize what's at stake.
The first impact of any further cuts may be felt by local business and those working to diversify our economy. The school works with local companies and those looking to locate here to offer specific training for the work force.
Tom Fitzgerald of Nevada Works, a federally funded, state administered work force improvement program, says cutting that effort is exactly the wrong thing to do.
"Are we shooting ourselves in the foot? Yes. Anytime you cut training or cut education, it affects the entire community."
Nevada Works plans to host a dialogue between local educators and business people next month. Meanwhile Sheehan looks for solutions including new revenue sources and, the least harmful cuts. "I'm optimistic about the school and the community."
The interview with Dr. Sheehan airs on "It's Not Just Politics" Sunday morning at 11.