Iowa Board of Regents asks state schools for more cuts - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa Board of Regents asks state schools for more cuts

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) - Iowa Board of Regents president David Miles wants each state school to form a plan on how to trim their budgets by the end of this month. He and other board members met via telephone conference on Wednesday afternoon.

The bottom line: state schools have a lot to accomplish in a small amount of time.

Miles says a hiring freeze at state schools will continue, until the head of each school has an approved action plan for closing their budget gaps.

During the conference, he said, "while protecting the priorities of our institutions, the pain of the actions required" should be shared across all employee groups.

He says each school must consider the following options for budget reductions: Temporary salary reductions and layoffs, temporary or permanent revisions of employee benefits, and postponing non-essential deferred building maintenance and repairs. Miles also says a temporary tuition surcharge for the upcoming spring semester is possible, as well as tuition increases for 2011.

Some board members ssaid a surcharge combined with a tuition increase would go too far. "I don't see where doing both of those would be tenable," said board member Ruth Harkin.

Another option on the table: search for any employees interested in early retirement, and give them extended healthcare coverage. University of Iowa President Sally Mason spoke up during the conference, stating that it's a measure that's already been proven to work.

"More than 600 of our employees expressed an interest in signing up for such a plan. It significantly helped us work our way through the first round of cuts, and I know we'll go back and see if there's more to be extracted," Mason said.

Miles hopes to avoid permanent layoffs and eliminating academic programs.

He says the Iowa School for the Deaf and the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School will suffer the most as a result of the budget cut, because unlike the other state schools, they have no alternate revenue sources. The board wants action plans from each school by their October 29th meeting.

Some good news came out of Wednesday's meeting. President Miles cancelled the moratorium he placed on new construction projects. He says the measure was creating anxiety and confusion. However, he says the benefits of new projects will be under more scrutiny than ever.

Online Reporter - Brady Smith 

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