Ada community leaders discuss importance of higher education

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ADA, OK "I wouldn't be here without those people that are supposedly non-essential," Michelle Sircy said.

Michelle Sircy is a student at East Central University, and a divorced mother a four.

She says college wouldn't have been an option without the help of ECU staff, staff that could lose their jobs due to proposed state budget cuts.

"You can't continue to cut education and expect to still produce high quality graduates to do these jobs," Sircy said.

The 22 Republicans in the state House of Representatives, want to eliminate non-essential, non-instructional employees in higher education.

They say it would save the state 328 million dollars.

"It takes the entire campus to get a student from enrollment as a beginning freshman, to graduation," Dr. Katricia Pierson, ECU President said.

"In the legislature, they need to not do what they did last year, which is to target higher education," Devery Youngbloood said.

Devery Youngblood leads Oklahoma Tomorrow, a nonprofit organization that lobbies the state government for more funding for universities.

He met with community and state leaders at ECU Friday morning.

"If we don't produce the engineers and the nurses and all these things we are not producing, then my children and your children ... our grandchild are going to leave this place and they're going to go somewhere else," Youngblood said.

"I'm hopeful that the people at the legislative level will start to see that this isn't just money, this is people's lives," Sircy said.

The the budget will likely be finalized within the next 10 days.