• Georgia Perimeter College facing $25 million deficit

    By: Richard Elliot


    Financially-strapped Georgia Perimeter College announced Friday it will cut as many as 185 full-time jobs as it tries to dig itself out of a massive $25 million budget deficit.

    GPC is the state's third-largest school, with an enrollment of 27,000 students at campuses around Metro Atlanta.

    GPC announced the surprising budget shortfall two weeks ago. The Georgia Board of Regents said they are still in the midst of an investigation as to how that happened.

    Shortly after the deficit announcement, GPC President Dr. Anthony Tricoli said he was stepping down. Rob Watts was chosen as interim president.

    Friday, Watts released his preliminary plan to fill in that huge budgetary hole. It includes cutting 185 non-tenured or tenure track employees, cutting many part-time employees, eliminating vacant positions and increasing class sizes.

    Watts said in the email sent to employees and the media that he wasn't recommending furloughs, but that would all depend on next year's enrollment.

    "I am holding furloughs as a last action if fall semester enrollment is substantially under current predictions," said Watts in the e-mail. "If at all possible, I want to avoid a second round of staff reductions in the case of an enrollment drop. I would prefer to use furloughs in that case."

    "It's a little frightening," said part-time admissions office employee Gwendolyn Russell-Walker. "With everything going on with the economy, everybody needs a job."

    Russell-Walker said rumors of the cuts had been circulating around the campus for days since the deficit announcement. She isn't sure if her position will be one of those cut.

    "Today we got a few answers as to what is going on, but we still don't know our position," said Russell-Walker.

    Some students were concerned that increased class sizes could impact their education.

    "It could go as far as packing up the classes where you can't focus," said GPC student Ameer Ali. "Then, the teachers could easily get stressed out because there's so much stuff going on with them, and then that could also reflect on us."

    Watts warned that FY13 will be very difficult for GPC but is hopeful FY14 will be somewhat better.

    University Chancellor Hank Huckaby issued a statement supporting Watts' budget cutting proposals.

    "President Rob Watts and his team are making difficult choice necessary to GPC moving forward," said Huckaby. "We regret these steps are necessary but believe Georgia Perimeter will be stronger as a result."

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