CCSF could get financial boost as it continues accreditation fight 

click to enlarge Mark Leno
  • Mike Koozmin/The s.F. Examiner
  • State Sen. Mark Leno, left — joined by Mayor Ed Lee, center, and CCSF Chancellor Art Tyler — introduced legislation that would give the CCSF a stable source of funding.
San Francisco’s distressed community college has had few causes for hope in recent years. But in a rare show of unity Monday, a new proposal to keep financially troubled City College of San Francisco in the black is just one of several signs that the cherished institution has some room for optimism.

State Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, plans to introduce a bill that would backfill the roughed-up college’s finances for four years as it continues to fight for survival.

“The bill specifically and singularly focuses on financial stabilization,” Leno said at a Monday morning news conference in City Hall. The presence of city, college and state officials, along with the school’s faculty union, showed that the bill united often-warring factions.

In the past two months, CCSF’s allies have been hard at work, but fears remain that it is facing a downward spiral of declining enrollment, class closures and decreases in funding. A drop in enrollment, which could in short order reduce state funding, might make it harder for the school to rebuild even if it wins its accreditation fight.

Leno’s Senate Bill 965 would give City College stable funding until July 1, 2018. The extended funding — decreasing a bit each year — would be based on 2013-14 full-time enrollment numbers.

Typically, the bulk of a two-year college’s funding comes from the state, which funds each school based on the number of full-time equivalent students enrolled.

While CCSF’s funding is being kept at current rates because of a one-year stabilization fund allowance, those dollars will dry up in July.

With enrollment declining — the spring semester had a 16 percent drop in full-time student enrollment — CCSF’s allotment could keep shrinking.

If Leno’s bill does not pass, the school would potentially lose about $23 million come this fall.

The bill needs the support of two-thirds of the Legislature to pass, Leno said, and would go into effect immediately.

“We’re not going to fail, we’re not going to allow City College to fail,” Mayor Ed Lee said Monday.

In early January, a judge granted a preliminary injunction in a civil case filed by the City Attorney’s Office that accused the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges of unfair treatment of the school and conflict of interest. No final action on accreditation can be taken until the trial is completed.

The ACCJC voted last summer to terminate CCSF’s accreditation by July if the school did not reform itself to come into compliance with commission standards and eligibility requirements. The termination vote was not linked to academics. Losing accreditation would effectively force the roughly 80,000-student school to close.

About The Author

Jonah Owen Lamb

Jonah Owen Lamb

Born and raised on a houseboat in Sausalito, Lamb has written for newspapers in New York City, Utah and the San Joaquin Valley. He was most recently an editor at the San Luis Obispo Tribune for nearly three years. He has written for The S.F. Examiner since 2013 and covers criminal justice and planning.
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