Highland Community College Cuts

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Steven Peterson works third shift making auto parts at the Honeywell Plant in Freeport. He spends his days studying engineering at Highland Community College.

"I've been going to highland for several years, four or five and I can't commute outside of the Freeport area," said Steven Peterson, an engineering student at Highland.

But now Peterson's future is as unpredictable as a science experiment. Facing a budget crunch, college administrators voted to eliminate the school's engineering and physics programs.

"I feel like a part of me is dying now because it's just gone," said Steven Peterson.

Professor Eric Peterson has devoted 17 years to teaching science classes to Highland students.

"It's their program. I'm just a facilitator. I'm here to assist them as a coach. They're the ones that are going to benefit from it more than I am," said professor Eric Stevenson.

Students say the school should have given them more warning.

"I was just shocked that highland would do that to our department because it's such a good department, and kind of felt like I was being gypped," said Chris Olsen, a second semester engineering student.

School president Ron Field says these were tough decision but the college is facing a deficit and no new revenue is in sight. Highland leaders say they targeted these programs because they're costly and effect the fewest number of students.

On the March 16 referendum voters will be asked to raise their taxes to give more money to highland's education fund, but that money will be used to pay off debt and won't help save any of these programs. In fact, Field says more positions could be cut in the future.