Returning Columbia-Greene Community College students hoping for a swift return to normal figure to be disappointed this fall.

Classes will likely remain online through the fall semester, College President Carlee Rader Drummer said Tuesday.

But there is a more significant concern than just the continuance of remote learning, which met with some success this spring.

That worry is financial. The college, which receives funding from the state and Greene and Columbia counties, may face severe budget cuts in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Drummer has said the college will have to reduce its operating budget in response to state cuts, which could amount to $1.4 million.

Indications are that the state budget will reflect cuts between 30% and 50% for Columbia-Greene Community College.

The key is the stimulus funds. If the college gets the funding, the blow might be softened a bit. If not, there may be no alternative except deep cuts to the college’s budget.

Greene and Columbia counties each sponsor the college to the tune of more than $3 million a year, based on enrollment from each county.

In addition to county funding, 18% of the college’s annual operating budget comes from the state.

Imagine state funding cuts between 6% and 9%. That would place an enormous burden on the sponsor counties to make up the deficit. It would likely mean a dramatic increase in tuition at the same time programs are slashed to save money.

Education is paramount as we turn a page on this devastating pandemic. The state should not cut funding for secondary education. If that happens, Columbia-Greene Community College is in for a long, hot summer.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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