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Black Hawk College forced to eliminate jobs amid Illinois budget crisis

MOLINE -- A combination of declining enrollment and steep state budget cuts for higher education are forcing Black Hawk College to eliminate 17 full-time positions, according to a release sent out by BHC on Thursday, Jan. 26.

Of those positions, eight are faculty and nine are staff/administration, said John Meineke, marketing and public relations director for Black Hawk College.

The college usually receives $8 million from the state in funding, but over the last two years it's only received 35 percent of that.

Black Hawk's enrollment problem is part of a nationwide trend, according to the release, which noted that enrollment at two-year public colleges across the country declined by about 153,000 students - or 2.6 percent - between 2015 and 2016. Black Hawk's enrollment fell by 8 percent between spring 2016 and spring 2017.

“Nobody wants to eliminate cost from your budget but we’ve been doing this periodically for the last two in a half years,” Dr. Bettie Truitt, president of the college said. "Each and every time that we had cuts we were hoping those would be the last that, but unfortunately the state of Illinois chose not to move forward with the budget and we simply have to plan ahead.”

Steve Frommelt, vice president for finance and administration, said, "We basically have a tripod of revenues at the college. we have the tuition, we have the tax dollars and state funding, so if you remove one leg from that tripod it makes it difficult to balance a budget."

Truitt said the College did not consider across-the-board cuts but instead looked at every area for opportunities to gain efficiencies and reduce costs in order to refocus the institution for future growth.

“The College has faced headwinds before. But for more than 70 years we have served our students and communities well. With continued hard work and dedication from our faculty and staff, we are very optimistic about our future,” Truitt said.