State plan would consolidate community college staffers

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State college professors protested Thursday against a consolidation plan they say will hurt students in community colleges. State college professors protested Thursday against a consolidation plan they say will hurt students in community colleges.
HARTFORD -

State college professors protested Thursday against a $40 million cost-cutting consolidation plan they say will hurt students in community colleges.

"Sixty to 70 percent of the major hit is going to be on our most vulnerable students," says TJ Barber, of Manchester Community College. "What happens in the classroom is incredibly important, but if we can't get them there, because we don't have staff to work with them, we're setting ourselves up to fail."

The regents' plan would move some staffers, particularly those working in financial aid and IT, to a centralized location, rather than having offices on all 17 campuses across the state. Community colleges like Housatonic and Norwalk could merge into one school with satellite campuses across the state.

And the plan would also affect four-year colleges like Western Connecticut State University in Danbury.

The protesting professors say they're worried that the move could discourage students, especially vulnerable students, from going to college.

The plan would also cut about 400 jobs, but many of them would come from retirements.

The head of the state college system says that without cuts and consolidation, community colleges may close altogether.

"If we don't have this conversation, then campuses will close," says Mark Ojakian, the president of Connecticut State Colleges. "And if campuses close, then the student's not going to be able to get their education."
 

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