Florida State College at Jacksonville is bracing for a major cut to its operating budget.
Lawmakers said they cut $30 million from the state college system, partly because fewer students are enrolling in remedial classes, which are meant to get struggling incoming students up to speed. FSCJ expects to lose about $3 million, and President Cynthia Bioteau said the cut would result in laying off more than 70 staffers.
As the Miami Herald reports, two years ago lawmakers loosened remedial class requirements for students to focus more on courses that count for credit. Colleges then pivoted to tutoring labs to fill that gap, which was cheaper, while still retaining the same level of developmental education funding.
But Bioteau said on First Coast Connect Wednesday, those students are still enrolling — they’re just getting help from the campus tutoring center.
She called out two Northeast Florida senators for approving the cuts.
“I would consider beginning with Senators Aaron Bean and Audrey Gibson and then looking at all of our representatives that are local to wherever you live — … phone calls, emails … — to help them make FSCJ whole again in our operating budget,” she said.
But, Sen. Gibson, D-Jacksonville, said if it weren't for community college advocates like her, the cuts would’ve been much deeper.
“Of the $55 million, I think we restored half — $25 million of the developmental education cut,” she said.
Gibson said she’s listening to the concerns, but she doubts Governor Rick Scott will veto large parts of the state’s more than $80 billion budget. Meanwhile, Bioteau is also calling on supporters to contact Scott.
A group of FSCJ students are planning to rally against the cuts on campus Thursday morning.
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