Mesquite May Lose College to Budget Cuts - 8 News NOW

Mesquite May Lose College to Budget Cuts

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LAS VEGAS -- Nevada colleges are not escaping deep cuts from Governor Brian Sandoval's proposed budget.

The City of Mesquite could lose its only college campus, leaving students there with few options to continue their education. The mayor says it would devastate the town. The College of Southern Nevada campus' 350 students are rallying against possible closure, hoping their voices will be heard in Carson City.

"I'm late in my life going to college and I finally came to a point in my life where I could go to college and continue my dreams. I might not be able to finish my degree and I'm halfway there," said student Lori Allen.

CSN Mesquite's students take everything from general education classes to phlebotomy courses for work at the city hospital.

"The campus has been here for over 20 years. Started in a little home," said CSN Mesquite coordinator Darlene Montague. "This has been a really good thing for us to be able to have this and offer this to students. There was nothing -- nothing here."

If the campus closes, students have two challenging options to continue their education: drive the 80 miles to CSN's Las Vegas campuses or cross state lines to St. George, Utah, where Dixie State College is willing to take them in.

"Many of those students would have the opportunity to apply for our Good Neighbor Policy," said Dixie State Vice President Frank Lojko.

Dixie is investing in their college. Construction is currently going on for a big expansion as the college becomes a university.

But even qualifying for $5,700 in in-state tuition, CSN students would still end up paying more at Dixie. The City of Mesquite faces another challenge -- if their only college campus closes, their plan to develop this city from the grips of recession is dealt a major blow.

"We're beginning to think we're on the recovery path. We're hoping to lure different types of manufacturing or clean energy jobs. To lose a community college campus is really going to be devastating," said Mesquite Mayor Susan Holecheck.

Mesquite's business community has nothing but praise for CSN's importance.

"I think the business community needs to have that employment base -- people that have finished the high school locally need to have a college that is close by so they can continue to start their education and also continue to work," said Rob Krieger with the Mesquite Chamber of Commerce.

But would Mesquite's businesses support a tax on services to pay for the college?

"I don't think that's really the best way to go. Businesses are really strapped right now anyway," said Krieger.

With no one currently willing to pay to keep CSN Mesquite open, this may be the last semester. The geographically isolated city of 15,000 may soon be left without any form of higher education.

"They deserve the same chance that anybody else does in Las Vegas, or anywhere else for that matter. I would say it can't happen. We can't allow it to happen," said Montague.

Nevada's Board of Regents will meet to figure out the impacts of state budget cuts Friday morning at the Desert Research Institute. Legislative leaders have warned of even deeper cuts under current budget proposals.

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