Sowela Community College hit with budget cuts

By Crystal Price - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Tough times for the economy is hitting Sowela Community College with some hefty budget cuts for the coming school year.

This fall Sowela is cutting almost 900,000 dollars from their budget, which is the equivalent of 10.5% of the school's overall budget.

This budget cut is forcing the college to cut three technical programs from their curriculum.

These include the diesel powered equipment technology program, the heat and air conditioning program, and a collision repair program out of Phelps Correctional Center.

The cut in the diesel mechanic program is leaving students without courses and equipment needed to complete their degree.

"Without money, then we've got to work with what we've got, so I guess I'll stick it out because I have two semesters left," says Rodrick Gary, a student at Sowela.

But school officials are prepared to redirect students in programs that have been cut.

"Our department chairs are counseling students, and some of the students are transferring to other programs that we're offering at the college," says Rick Bateman, Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs and Student Success.

The college has also removed 31 faculty and staff positions.

"Of course I don't feel great about it but I understand what they're having to do," says Mike Merrill, a diesel tech instructor at Sowela.

As a result of the college cutting the diesel mechanic  program, Mike Merrill will lose his job in five weeks

"They're not getting as much money from the government as they did before so something has to go," says Merrill.

Despite the layoffs and program cuts, the vice chancellor for dowel says the college is holding up well.

Remaining instructors have stepped up to accept larger class sizes, and administrators and staff have stepped up to take on multiple responsibilities to make up for the inability to hire and replace positions.

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