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Northeast State plan to fix $5 million budget deficit involves job cuts

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Major cuts happening at Northeast State Community College means some jobs are on the line.

Northeast State's new president revealed his plan to fix a $5 million budget deficit. News 5's Tiana Bohner sat down with the president.

President James King said school leaders relied on money from the reserve fund, until it dried up. After a series of what he called 'poor decisions' by the previous leadership, King is determined to turn things around.

"You have just a 'Wow' moment," King said. "And so something has to be done."

The new president said he's prepared to do it, stepping in to fix a budget mess. Northeast State, $5 million in the red, left behind by the previous administration.

"All of that was brought to light when the vote of no confidence came," King said."We started to look and an audit has been performed."

King said part of the problem is that the school over-projected enrollment by 35% over the last five years.

"We may have been overstaffed in some spots because we didn't let go of people when the numbers dropped," he said.

So now, he said he's forced to cut jobs.

"It's going to be across the board from administration to maintenance," King said.

And he's had to stop construction on a new multi-million dollar Emerging Technology building. The building will replace an aging building for technical trades. King said the project will be completed, but he doesn't have a timeline yet.

"To get where we need to be, to make payroll, keep the lights on - all of the above - it has to be done now," King said.

Former SGA president Seth Manning is concerned about how all of these changes will affect students.

"The jury is still out, we'll have to see what he's able to do," Manning said.

"The least impacted area is going to be students," King said. "Student services are going to be there. It's going to be the same quality of education."

And Manning wonders why some of these cuts can't be spread out over time.

"We don't have that luxury - it needs to be addressed immediately," King said.

While Manning still has some questions, he's hopeful the president's plan will put the college back on the right track.

"All eyes are on him in terms of what he can get done, but this was a great first step," Manning said.

We also got statements from the Faculty Senate and the Tennessee Board of Regents.

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"In response to the information regarding budget cuts across campus, the Faculty Senate is saddened to learn about impending personnel losses, yet we also understand that these cuts are necessary to the institution's stability.

The Faculty Senate supports President King's decision to prioritize the college's mission and focus on students in the face of these budgetary challenges." -Francis Canedo, Faculty Senate president

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"It is always cause for concern when budget reductions of this level must occur - especially when reductions in personnel must be considered. But the corrective actions are necessary to get Northeast's finances back on track, and I have complete confidence that Interim President James King and the finance teams at Northeast and TBR are doing all they can to minimize the impacts on faculty, staff and students.

While I am saddened that we have to consider staffing reductions, it's important for everyone to know that Northeast is and will remain a strong, vibrant, fully accredited public community college totally focused on the success of its students and the Northeast Tennessee region it serves." -Flora Tydings, Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4

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King said he doesn't know how many or which positions will be affected. He will make that decision once the fall semester is over so that he can see which classes don't have enough demand.

The school is also working on boosting enrollment to increase revenue.

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