Despite enrollment drop, CCSF hopes court ruling and marketing stop the bleeding 

click to enlarge Carol Reitan
  • Mike Koozmin/the S.F. eXaminer
  • Carol Reitan, who teaches French at CCSF, speaks to passerby Leo Gonzalez on Tuesday while trying to publicize the college’s offerings.
One after another, people sped by Anna Asebedo as she stood at the Montgomery BART station fare gates Tuesday. The chairwoman of City College of San Francisco’s Art Department was handing out yellow fliers to remind passers-by the school remains open and accredited.

“People thought we were closed,” said Asebedo of last year’s recruiting. She was one of nearly 25 teachers who volunteered to staff tables and hand out fliers at two BART stations and the Ferry Building just days before the start of the spring semester.

Recruitment in such locales is not unheard of, but the push held more weight this year.

Enrollment is down 23 percent compared to last year at this time, according to CCSF.

Only 7,330 full-time students have signed up thus far, short of the target of 9,150.

But there is hope that might change, said CCSF spokesman Peter Anning and teachers out recruiting.

Last week, a judge granted a preliminary injunction in a civil case filed by the City Attorney’s Office that accuses the body that announced the revocation of CCSF’s accreditation of wrongdoing. No final action on accreditation can be taken until the trial has been completed.

Meanwhile, more than $200,000 has been spent on marketing since November, and U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, stumped for the school Monday.

But two years of bad press have not been good for CCSF, said Tuesday’s recruitment drive organizer Carol Reitan.

“We’ve had bad press,” said Reitan, who has taught French at CCSF since the early 1990s.

“It started with the show-cause decision,” she added in reference to a 2012 warning issued to CCSF by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges.

Kinneret Israel, a Middle Eastern studies teacher who handed out fliers at the Montgomery BART station Tuesday, agreed. Last semester, she said, people would come up to her and say, “Isn’t City College closed?”

The decline in enrollment will not impact current funding — the school has an exemption, Anning said — but there are concerns that the negative impacts will come in other forms.

Teachers worry that it will prompt the elimination of more classes — permanently.

“It takes a long time to get classes back,” said Andrea Massalski, a 25-year adjunct photography teacher.

The ACCJC voted in June 2013 to terminate City College’s accreditation by July 2014 if the school did not reform itself to come into compliance with commission accreditation standards and eligibility requirements. The termination vote was not linked to academics.

Jan. 24 is the last day to drop full-term classes in order to qualify for a refund of enrollment fees. Jan. 30 is the last day to add classes.

CCSF enrollment

Total enrollment Jan. 7, 2013: 27,789

Total enrollment Jan. 4, 2014: 21,405

Decline: 6,384

Percentage change: -23

Full-time enrolled students 2014: 7,330

Full-time enrollment target for 2014: 9,150

Source: CCSF

About The Author

Jonah Owen Lamb

Jonah Owen Lamb

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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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