UMSL braces for layoffs as enrollment declines

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KPLR) - Layoffs are coming at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, as the school looks to cut its budget by ten percent.

A university spokesman says everything is on the table, but with 75 percent of the school`s budget going to pay for faculty and staff, it is clear jobs will be lost.

In raw numbers, the university is looking to cut its $160 million operating budget by $15 million.

'Enrollment is down primarily because of demographics,' said university spokesman Bob Samples.

He says for the past several years, Missouri and the states surrounding it have seen fewer students graduating high school, contributing to a four percent decrease in enrollment this year at UMSL.

'The numbers have gone down, it`s that boom kind of thing and we have been riding that downward cycle and we hope in a few years it will rise back up,' Samples said. 'Obviously, we are not the only college or university that has seen that kind of thing,' he said.

According to our partners at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, for the past 25 years, enrollment has been dropping at St. Louis Community College, which is where UMSL gets 75 percent of its students.

UMSL students are obviously concerned about how the cuts will affect their education, especially since some students have had to live with the effects of cuts already made.

'I know that the dance program just got eliminated and I was going to take a dance class,' said student Joann Schweiter.

'They need quality teachers, we are paying for that quality and if they don`t have that quality then we are going somewhere else,' said student Steven Williams.

The school is trying to be as transparent as possible, creating a budget website which includes a place for students to make anonymous suggestions on what to cut.

Chancellor Thomas George says the one thing that will not have its funding cut is the school`s scholarship fund.

The university spokesman says the school recognizes that anything which diminishes its academic offerings ultimately would contribute to losing even more students, so the cuts will be surgical instead of a flat percentage across the board.

'We hope at the end of the day we don`t impact students in a way that people may believe that would happen,' Samples said.

'We want to strengthen the classroom experience, not diminish it,' he said.