NEIU to cancel 3 days of classes due to state budget impasse

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Northeastern University will eliminate about 180 full-time employees this summer in the latest cost-cutting measure taken by the Northwest Side school to close a budget shortfall of nearly $11 million. | Provided photo

Northeastern Illinois University is canceling three days of classes over the next month to cut costs as its state funding dries up because of thehistoric budget impasse draggingon in Springfield.

Facing a severe budget shortfall, the Northwest Side school already implemented a weeklong furlough program during spring break last month to save money on salaries affecting about 1,100 employees and 10,000 students.

Class cancellations are scheduled for April 11, April 12 and May 1, the school announced Wednesday. Administrators were negotiating with the school’s employee unions to determine ifthey’ll implement a “full University shutdown” on those days.

“For Northeastern, this is a state of emergency,” interim president Richard J. Helldobler said in a statement, noting that more furlough days will be “inevitable” without more money from the state.

Statehouse Democrats on Wednesday were discussinga $750 million “lifeline” bill that would secure funds for higher education as the budget impasse enters its 22nd month, but Gov. Bruce Rauner said he opposed such a “stopgap” measure without a permanent property tax freeze.

Last year, NEIUbegan requiring employees to take an unpaid furlough day once every six weeks, and in 2015 it eliminated 65 non-teaching positions to brace for a cut in state funds. The school also has put a hold on hiring, travel budgets and maintenance projects.

“Springfield must understand that the lack of funding for higher education is having a negative and permanent impact, specifically on disadvantaged populations in the state,” Helldobler said. Minorities make up more than half of the student body.

Students are still registering for summer and fall courses, and NEIU’s commencement ceremony is expected to take place as scheduled in May, with senior Barack Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett as keynote speaker.

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