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ISU cuts budget by millions, plans for layoffs and furloughs

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POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - With a grim outlook for the school's budget, Idaho State University President Kevin Satterlee announced plans for deep cuts.

On Friday, Satterlee gave an update to the university community via YouTube about the plans to reduce the school's massive debt. He said to expect layoffs and mandatory furloughs.

“We hope to be fully operational in the fall, but based on public health guidelines, we will also be planning for the continuation of social distancing,” Satterlee said.

The school is preparing for possible operational and financial changes in the fall because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Now, ISU is facing a $16 million deficit, which partially existed before the pandemic but was magnified by nationwide university enrollment drops.

In April, Satterlee asked departments to present plans for a 4%, 5% and 6% budget reduction. On April 21-23, the University Leadership Council met to review those options and make the difficult decisions.

“Rather than making blanket cuts, the leadership council considered all proposals very carefully, and approached decision making as strategically as possible, knowing this is a very difficult situation,” Satterlee said in his update.

Layoffs and furloughs

In total, ISU plans to save $6.7 million from staff and faculty cuts.

The university is saving $4.5 million from not filling vacant position and $2.2 million from a combination of contract non-renewals and reduced annual hours.

"Classified" staff will be reduced by 3.8%. "Non-Classified" staff will by cut by 6.7%. Faculty will be reduced by 3.3%.

“So after all of this, there still remains a deficit for fiscal year 21,” Satterlee said.

To reduce the deficit, ISU plans to collect the salary savings, rather than repurposing them, into a single pool, which Satterlee said would add $2.7 million to the budge.

One-time furloughs in fiscal year 2021 are also expected to save an additional $2 million. ISU is working on a voluntary furlough plan to roll out later this year and into next year.

ISU employs 1,822 full-time, benefitted staff and faculty. Officials do not have a total count of how many employees will be affected by the rollbacks, yet.

Other budget cuts

“Here’s where we are today: through the strategic reductions, we were able to cut 11.7 million from the budget over a two-year period,” Satterlee said.

Each college is slicing their budget by about 5%. Non-Academic units of the university are expecting about a 6% budget decrease. The largest budget reduction for a university unit is the Office of the President, cutting nearly 14% of the budget.

Satterlee told Local News 8 in a previous interview that the school would prioritize academic units in the budget over administrative units.

Investments for longterm plan

In addition to budget cuts, Satterlee said the leadership council also decided to reallocate some money to invest in the university.

This year, a total of about $1.8 million will be "strategically invested" into university programs to "increase revenue through student enrollment."

Part of the investment is allocated to the university's marketing campaign, which was showing promise for recruitment and retention numbers before the pandemic.

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Emma Iannacone

Emma is a reporter for Local News 8 and KIDK Eyewitness News 3.


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