Emergency meeting held at Pitt State regarding potential furlough of all nonessential state employees

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An emergency meeting was held at Pittsburg State University this morning, regarding the potential furlough of all nonessential state employees.

If Kansas lawmakers fail to reach an agreement on covering the state budget shortfall by the end of this week, several positions at Pitt State may be in jeopardy.

How many, of the more than 850 full-time employees at Pitt State, will return to work on Monday remains unknown.

“I am very concerned,” said Ginger Owen, full-time employee. “We all are, about how our office is going to function because we need each employee, really.”

Student employees are also among those at risk of being furloughed.

“It’s pretty scary,” said Hannah Jones, student employee. “I don’t have another job, so if I can’t work then I wont get paid and I have bills to pay.”

University officials say they’re currently working on finalizing a list of all essential employees.

“It really is difficult for us,” said Chris Kelly, associate vice president, university marketing. “I just really dislike the term ‘essential’ because every employee that works here is essential. What we’re being forced to do, and what we’ll have to do, is look at what level would be necessary to operate the campus at the very basic level.”

School officials remain hopeful lawmakers in Topeka will find a solution in time, but they say it’s important to prepare for the worst case scenario.

“The deadline that the state and the governor’s office put forward was midnight on Saturday, so the clock is ticking,” Kelly said. “We are very hopeful that lawmakers will come together and come to an agreement, and all of this planning will have been for not.”

On Friday at noon, school officials will notify employees of whether they are expected at work on Monday.

Until then, many say they’re trying to stay positive.

“I’m just hoping that it doesn’t happen for myself, and for anyone on campus working,” Jones said.

“Getting scary now, but we’re hoping for the best,” Owen said.

University officials say should furloughs occur, they do not expect summer session classes to be affected.

If lawmakers do find a solution by the Saturday deadline, the university will send out another mass email, reversing Friday’s notice.

The Kansas Department of Administration has posted a list of frequently asked questions regarding furloughs on their website, available at https://admin.ks.gov/.