State

Illinois budget standoff forces 300 layoffs at Chicago State

FILE - This Feb. 26, 2016 file photo shows the campus at Chicago State University in Chicago. On Friday, April 22, 2016, Illinois lawmakers approved a $600 million short-term funding infusion for higher education institutions that have been struggling financially due to not receiving state money during the state budget impasse. Chicago State University is on the verge of closing. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)
FILE - This Feb. 26, 2016 file photo shows the campus at Chicago State University in Chicago. On Friday, April 22, 2016, Illinois lawmakers approved a $600 million short-term funding infusion for higher education institutions that have been struggling financially due to not receiving state money during the state budget impasse. Chicago State University is on the verge of closing. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

CHICAGO – Chicago State University laid off more than 300 employees, about a third of its workforce, after emergency state funding recently approved amid Illinois’ ongoing budget stalemate proved too little to prevent the cuts.

Chicago State President Thomas Calhoun Jr. said the layoffs announced Friday spared faculty, but they are likely to be affected by later cuts. Friday’s layoffs affected most areas from administrators and counselors to police and carpenters.

Calhoun called the layoffs “dreadful” but said they will save about 40 percent in payroll costs, about $2 million a month.

Lawmakers approved a $600 million short-term funding fix on April 22 for the state’s colleges and universities. But Calhoun said the $20 million that went to Chicago State wasn’t enough to prevent job cuts.

“It was less than what we needed and later than we needed it, as much as we appreciated getting it,” he told the Chicago Tribune. “It really is a Band-Aid and not the solution.”

Robert Bionaz, president of the school’s faculty union that represents some of the laid-off academic service professionals, said the cuts are “a staggering number.”

“It’s profound that you talk about laying off half of your non-instructional staff. I just don’t know who is going to do the work,” he said.

Some of the school’s emergency funding needs to go toward outstanding vendor bills.

The four-year university on Chicago’s South Side that serves about 4,500 mostly minority and low-income students from the city has been the hardest hit in the state by the ongoing budget standoff.

The school’s spring semester ended Thursday, two weeks early, to ensure that students could graduate before the money ran out.

Other schools have also cut staff this year, including Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, which eliminated 65 noninstructional positions.

Western Illinois University has cut 147 positions, including 30 faculty jobs, and about 500 employees are taking furlough days and pay cuts this spring. Northern Illinois University has avoided layoffs but has left 116 jobs unfilled during this academic year.

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