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      STC Cuts for Staff

      State legislators touring the Rio Grande Valley made a stop at South Texas College in Starr County to hear from President Shirley Reed.

      She told legislators that if approved, proposed House Bill 1 could leave STC in limbo and professors there without health care benefits.

      Students there said "that's totally unfair.

      Miguel Garcia, a tutor at the Center for Learning Excellence at STC Pecan Campus said, "this is so basic economics. If you have less funds going towards this valuable resource - which is the professor - without benefits these professors are going to go elsewhere (such as) private universities where they get these benefits or they are going to go to (The University of Texas Pan-American)."

      Reed told legislators that as written the proposed bill could force the STC Board of Trustees to cut healthcare benefits for it's employees.

      The bill proposes cutting funding for community colleges, amongst other things, to overcome a $27 million dollar deficit. For STC that means a 17 percent funding cut.

      "I think we are going to be losing a lot of valuable people, Garcia said. And also we are not going to be attracting the kind of professors that we really want. It TMs going to make (education) even worse than it already is."

      Reed said over the past two years the community college experienced a nearly 23 percent growth in the student population.

      There are currently about 30,000 students at the college, but the proposed cuts would leave the STC with funding to service just about 25,000 students.

      STC students said they are concerned about the future of STC and their own education.

      Nursing student Crystal Arredondo said it is vital for STC to keep attracting qualified instructors and offering high-quality courses, and therefore should not cut healthcare benefits.

      "Students might be discouraged, they might end-up dropping out - might be discouraged from coming to class or might just think that they can't make it because of the lack of help and (quality) courses."

      According to President Reed, cutting programs at STC would be the last thing considered if HB 1 passes and the community college system is slapped with the 17 percent funds cut.