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UW-Parkside eyes furloughs to close $3.5 million budget gap

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(The Center Square) – UW-Parkside is the latest University of Wisconsin school to look at budget cuts to close a multi-million dollar budget deficit.

UW trustees are expected to vote Tuesday on a plan from the Parkside campus to furlough all of its staff members in order to get a $3.5 million budget gap under control.

“Enrollments have declined since 2020-21 and are projected to be 4,015 in 2023-24,” Parkside manager said in a report to trustees.

That includes about 3,350 undergrad students and another 665 grad students.

The Parkside report says the school will also see less money with those fewer students, but will see more money spent.

“In 2023-24, revenues are expected to decrease by 0.2%, or $141,000 from the prior year,” the report notes. “In 2023-24, expenses will increase by 9.5%, or $8.2M from the prior year.”

Parkside says the biggest drive of that 9.5% increase is pay raises for faculty members and staffers.

There are 525 people working at UW-Parkside, though it’s not clear just who may be required to take a furlough.

Democratic lawmakers in the Kenosha County area, Parkside’s home, blamed the campus’ financial woes on the Republican-controlled legislature.

“The Republicans have attacked the UW System from almost the first day of their majority. Many of us on the other side of the aisle and in the higher education world have seen this coming and sounded the alarm. Republicans either wouldn’t listen or didn’t care. If their goal is to make a college education inaccessible for average Wisconsin families, they are well on their way,” said Rep. Tod Ohnstad, D-Kenosha, said.

“UW-Parkside has long been a treasure of our community, and the continued under-investment from the state undermines the families that seek to better their life through education, as well as the businesses that need skilled workers. In a time of plenty for our state’s surplus, there is no reason why we cannot do more to strengthen the UW System,” Rep. Tip McGuire, D-Kenosha, added.

The Republican-written budget includes a $115 million operating increase for the UW System, along with a 4% or $123 million pay raise for UW faculty and staff.

Democrats remain upset the legislature flagged $32 million for diversity equity, and inclusion efforts on UW campuses. That money remains in reserve and wasn’t entirely cut.

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