VSCS Becomes A Big Topic At Governors Briefing

VERMONT-  Governor Phil Scott and his COVID-19 task force held their annual briefing Monday to discuss Vermonts response to COVID-19 and the issues Vermonters are facing. 

This comes as the Vermont State College System Chancellor Jeb Spaulding has proposed a plan to close three VSC campuses which include Northern Vermont University - Lyndon, Northern Vermont University - Johnson and Vermont Technical College in Randolph. 

Last week, VSC Chancellor Jeb Spaulding proposed a plan that would shut down all three campuses due to a projected deficit of up to $10 Million on top of the already hurting college system, and enrollment expected to drop 15%-20% in the 2021 fiscal year due to the pandemic, creating more budget shorfolds. The proposed plan would be to cosolidate NVU programs into Castleton University and Vermont Technical College to its Williston Campus and other locations.

The vote by the Vermont Board of Trustees was expected to take place on Monday April 20th but has been posponed to Monday April 27th. According to the VSCS, trustees will hear information regarding the finacial challenges and that Mondays meeting of the board will be informational. 

Governor Phil Scott said in his press briefing, "We have seen this over time, if you look back over the last couple of years, you'll remember Burlington College was the first, then Green Mountain College, Southern Vermont College, Malboro College and there are others who are on the brink at this point." Scott said. 

The Governor then went on to say in regards to the VSC proposal, "This will be a topic for us to consider, but there is not an infinite amount of money available either and so whatever we do now, we have to consider what are the long term impacts, is it sustainable if we just inject money into any institution, is that going to mean they are going to survive in the long run because they had finacial challenges previous to this, so again, a lot of consideration over the next few weeks and months. I am thankful they put off the vote for a week and giving everyone time to settle in and consider what is the possible."

In addition, Governor Scott noted he is concerned for K-12 institutions as over the past 20 years, Vermont has seen a decrease in enrollment by 30,000 students. He says, this could be even more challenging for the future of the Vermont College System. 

"The number of students in our K-12 has decreased by 30,000 over the last 20 years, that has affect on our higher education as well because those are the students who typically go to our state colleges and so when we don't have the students enrolling, that means they have a problem on the other end." 

To wrap the issue, Governor Scott wanted to address that Vermont is doing everything they can to help in the relief but some tough decisions, will have to be made. 

"This is going to be challenging and I know it sounds like the relief. I am appreciative of everything our congressional delegation did to get us some money for relief but that is not going to fix all of our problems. So we are going to make some tough choices and electively with the legislature we will do just that and try and find solutions to the problems as they come."

In other key topics, the Governors task force wanted to announce that in order to help Vermonter get help with their unemployment claims, they have added another 50 state employees, 50 agents with an outside contractor which will bring the total number for answering phones to more than 150 and over 200 people processing claims. 

For more unemployment information you can visit LaborVermont.gov