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SOU plans tuition boost, layoffs

Student costs may rise 3% to 5% this spring; 18 jobs will end

Southern Oregon University plans layoffs and another tuition increase in the spring quarter to combat the latest &

36;460,000 budget cutback resulting from a worsening state economy.

Tuition could increase an estimated — to 5 percent in the spring term. Eleven classified employees will be laid off and contracts for seven administrative positions will not be renewed, said Ron Bolstad, vice president of administration and finance.

Fees also could be increased at the bookstore, and for student housing, food services and other services.

SOU also will reorganize administrative duties and consolidate academic programs to generate more savings.

Bolstad, who said no faculty will be part of this layoff, said more details of the consolidations will be announced after affected staff members are notified today about the layoffs.

The school employs about 700 full- and part-time staff.

This round of cutbacks comes after the university already slashed &

36;4 million ' 10 percent of its budget ' because of the state's faltering economy that has produced fewer tax revenues.

With this latest cutback we're beyond 10 percent, said Bolstad.

Gov. John Kitzhaber told the Oregon University System last week to make &

36;9.1 million in cuts because the state shortfall has grown worse than earlier thought.

The biggest impact will be felt by the 5,500 students as the university tries to determine how much of a tuition increase to impose in the spring quarter.

At the beginning of this school year an average undergraduate paid &

36;902 a term ' a — percent increase over last year.

However, the university has added a &

36;50 surcharge on the winter quarter as a precaution against the failure of Measure 28, an income tax increase that goes before voters Jan. 28.

With this latest budget shortfall, SOU could be charging up to 10 percent more this year for tuition compared to September.

spring, a typical undergraduate could go up to slightly over &

36;1,000, said Bolstad.

SOU plans to set aside some money ' an amount hasn't yet been decided ' to help students who are at risk of dropping out of school because they can't afford the tuition, he said.

Sen. Lenn Hannon, R-Ashland, said the future of funding for higher education and other government services doesn't look bright.

I'm not too optimistic about it, he said.

A combination of the expected failure of Measure 28, a proposed income tax increase that goes before voters on Jan. 28, and more budget shortfalls will mean a total of &

36;450 million lopped off of government services.

This means further reductions for everybody, he said. It's not just Southern Oregon University, but human services and corrections (prisons).

For teachers, the prospect of more cutbacks is particularly worrisome after a series of belt-tightening measures already.

Terry DeHay, English and writing department chairwoman,

said there have been so many budget cuts that it has been difficult to keep track of them.

The budget process has gotten so confused you just react to it, she said.

So far, her department has lost the equivalent of more than four full-time positions, bringing the total work force to about 12.

Most of the cuts have been to part-timers or adjunct faculty, not full-time faculty members, she said.

While the cuts have meant fewer choices in student electives, DeHay said, Students are still getting a good education. It's just getting tighter and tighter for them.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 776-4476, or e-mail