Vote to close three VSC campuses delayed

Published: Apr. 19, 2020 at 5:11 PM EDT
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The Vermont State Colleges System (VSCS) Board of Trustees on Sunday decided to delay the vote regarding the closure of three college campuses: NVU Lyndon, NVU Johnson and Vermont Technical College in Randolph. According to the VSCS, trustees will hear information regarding the organization's financial challenges and that Monday’s meeting of the board will be "informational in nature."

“I have listened to my colleagues on the Board and want to give them time to consider the very significant decisions we have to make,” Board of Trustees Chair, J. Churchill Hindes said in a statement. However, he also said, “delayed action increases the profound financial risks facing all four VSCS Colleges and Universities. Those risks grow daily. We simply do not have the funds to afford a protracted discussion and debate.”

The VSCS says, every two weeks, it spends approximately $6 million between payroll and expenses. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a significant increase in the VSCS anticipated operating deficit to as much as $7 million-$10 million this fiscal year, including $5.6 million in costs for student refunds for room and board due to moving students off-campus and shifting to remote instruction. The system could run out of operating funds by mid-June, forcing it to begin spending its already low reserves.

VSCS Chancellor Jeb Spaulding said in a statement Sunday, “The recommendations I have laid out are an attempt to avoid a catastrophic result for Vermonters’ access to higher education and re-position the entire System for the future. We are happy that we will have the opportunity to engage with the Governor and the Legislature. I must emphasize we cannot wait to act until after the completion of a long deliberation – as some have suggested. In addition to the inevitable financial consequences, the result would be that students may forgo their education with us, potentially leaving the State, and staff will seek more reliable employment elsewhere. It’s that simple. We will find ourselves in a vicious and unending cycle of decline.”

It is unclear at this time if and when the board of trustees will vote on the chancellor's recommendation.

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