Community colleges brace for worst 

click to enlarge “We know so many students who need the instruction we offer, or individuals out of work, but can’t drive ourselves into bankruptcy in order to do that.” — Jack Scott, California Community Colleges chancellor - COURTESY PHOTO
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  • “We know so many students who need the instruction we offer, or individuals out of work, but can’t drive ourselves into bankruptcy in order to do that.” — Jack Scott, California Community Colleges chancellor

State community college officials are hoping to save their system from devastating cuts with the passage of Proposition 30 this November. But if the measure fails, they’re unsure whether tuition will increase.

California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott said Wednesday that Gov. Jerry Brown’s ballot measure to increase sales taxes and income taxes would give the state’s 112 community colleges an additional $210 million. Passage of the measure would allow them to increase enrollment and class offerings. Without that revenue, Scott said, more cuts will occur.

However, unlike the University of California and California State University systems, whose governing boards can increase their respective tuitions and fees, the Legislature sets the fees for community colleges.

Scott said he has not heard any discussions about increasing those fees, which are currently $46 per unit —
up from $26 per unit just two years ago.

Although unit fees have risen at community colleges, Scott said, systemwide budgets, enrollment and the number of course offerings have dropped.

Since 2008-09, California’s community colleges have cut 12 percent of their operating expenses, decreased enrollment by 485,000 students and cut course offerings to meet budget needs.

“We have the desperate need out there,” Scott said. “We know so many students who need the instruction we offer, or individuals out of work, but can’t drive ourselves into bankruptcy in order to do that.”

At City College of San Francisco, however, the cuts could become more dramatic as the college fights to keep its accreditation status following a scathing July report from the

Accreditation Commission for Community and Junior Colleges. City College officials also expect a September report criticizing their finances from the state Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team.

Thus far, City College has cut costs by 4 percent to operate on a $182 million budget. The school also was forced to cut 650 class sections this semester.

“It’s a bit of a moving target right now,” City College spokesman Larry Kamer said, regarding balancing the college’s budget. “If Prop. 30 doesn’t pass we’ll have to cut another $10 million from our current budget for the year we’re in now, which will be painful.”

akoskey@sfexaminer.com

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