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Ridgewater's busy summer could be disrupted

WILLMAR -- Ridgewater College's campuses in Willmar and Hutchinson are busy in the summer.

There's a steady flow of walk-in traffic for registration and other business, President Douglas Allen said Wednesday afternoon. The school is in the middle of a summer session now, with a second session due to begin in early July.

A variety of events and continuing education classes also take place throughout the summer.

If there's a state government shutdown on July 1, many people in both communities are likely to be affected.

The Board of Trustees of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system held an emergency meeting Wednesday to discuss how to proceed if the fiscal year ends without a new state budget in place.

The current fiscal year ends June 30. If Gov. Mark Dayton and the Legislature can't reach agreement on a new two-year budget, most of state government could shut down July 1.

The Agriculture Department is the only one that has a budget approved and in place for the new fiscal year.

MnSCU faces a Friday deadline to give its employees a three-week notification that they may be laid off July 1. It could affect as many as 6,000 employees.

MnSCU has enough money in reserve to stay open for a time, even if there is a shutdown. However, the money is held in state accounts, and it may not be accessible through the Minnesota Management and Budget department.

If MnSCU is able to keep people working, the mechanics of paying them could be a problem, Allen said. "(Minnesota Management and Budget) does payroll for us, so if they are not in operation, it's a conundrum."

Employees on the college's Willmar and Hutchinson campuses would receive notices if there's no agreement to allow access to the money, Allen said.

"I believe the board will have to move forward with preparations," because of the looming deadline, he said.

The board of trustees decided later Wednesday to send notices to 6,000 of its 15,000 workers on Friday.

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

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