published Saturday, September 1st, 2012

Low enrollment forces Dalton State furlough days

Students Tyler Dockery and Dania Gaines walk to class at Dalton State College in this file photo.
Students Tyler Dockery and Dania Gaines walk to class at Dalton State College in this file photo.
Photo by Matt Fields-Johnson /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Dalton State College is making budget cuts to stay in the black.

The school in Dalton, Ga., is scheduling several faculty and staff furlough days to compensate for a decline in enrollment and cuts in state funding, officials announced this week.

In addition, three vacant staff positions will not be filled, President John Schwenn said.

Enrollment is down because the school raised standards for admission this year, turning away 200 students who would have been eligible for admission last year. But enrollment fell further than expected, Schwenn said, resulting in a $455,000 loss in operating funds.

"We projected a 5 percent decline in enrollment due to a change in our admission standards, but our actual enrollment for fall is down 8 percent," he said.

Jodi Johnson, vice president for enrollment and student services, said that the higher admission standards are the best option for the university in the long run.

"As a result, we have a smaller, but better-prepared, class this fall," she said. "The students admitted face better prospects for success in college and graduation, and that's a good thing even though it does mean that we suffer a loss of operating funds."

In addition to the lower enrollment, Dalton State College must cut between 2 and 5 percent in state funding, Schwenn said. That's $411,000 to $685,000.

All faculty and staff members will take one furlough day a month in October and November, and may take another in January. Schwenn said he's just glad the school won't need to cut faculty positions to balance the budget.

"We are pleased that we can achieve needed cuts through furlough days," he said, "and that we don't have to resort to a reduction in force at this time."

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