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WICHITA, Kansas – With KU’s Chancellor warning Wichita’s medical school would lose more than half its students and Salina’s medical school would close if harsh cuts to higher education pass, Sedgwick County commissioners are looking at what they can do to prevent the cuts.
“I think it would be a blow to a large portion of Kansas and certainly for Wichita,” said Commissioner Tim Norton.
The county briefly discussed the proposed cuts to higher education at their planning meeting Tuesday.
KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little told the Kansas Board of Regents earlier this month that Wichita’s four-year medical student program would be reduced to just two-years serving only third and fourth year students.
KU’s medical school in Salina would close.
Just two years ago, the medical school expanded in Wichita to offer a four-year program partly to help fill the need of doctors in western Kansas.
“They fought so hard to get it to be a four year medical center, we’ve added pharmacy, we’ve been fighting for dental and to diminish the medical programs here doesn’t make any sense to me,” said Norton.
Leaders in the state house want to cut higher education by 4 percent, a cut of nearly $30 million. Senate leaders have proposed a cut of 2 percent.
Governor Sam Brownback is against any cuts to higher education.
If cuts pass, KU says it would close its Salina campus and scale back classes in Wichita next summer.
Lawmakers return to Topeka next week.