Elected officials vow to work on effort to save CCSF from closure 

click to enlarge From left, Assemblyman Phil Ting, CCSF board of trustees President John Rizzo and Alisa Messer of the American Federation of Teachers speak at an event Thursday rallying support for City College, which is set to lose its accreditation. - ALEX LEBER/SPECIAL TO THE S.F. EXAMINER
  • Alex Leber/Special to The S.F. Examiner
  • From left, Assemblyman Phil Ting, CCSF board of trustees President John Rizzo and Alisa Messer of the American Federation of Teachers speak at an event Thursday rallying support for City College, which is set to lose its accreditation.

Elected leaders are throwing lifelines to City College of San Francisco as they look for ways to help save the state's largest community college.

From providing city personnel to assist the college with needed reforms to vowing to hold public forums about CCSF now that the school's board of trustees has lost its power, city and state officials are stepping up to help out.

The Mayor's Office is offering support from the City Controller's Office, Budget and Finance Department, Public Finance Office and Department of Human Resources, mayoral education adviser Hydra Mendoza told members of the Board of Supervisors on Thursday.

"There's a lot of work being done behind the scenes," Mendoza said. "We're offering services and making sure they have what's available in terms of resources. We want to be sure students and families have a high-quality institution to go to."

City College learned earlier this month that it will lose its accreditation in July 2014 unless its leaders can prove they've made extraordinary changes to the way the college operates. Without accreditation, the college will lose state and federal funding as well as access to financial aid, essentially forcing it to close.

The ruling stemmed from the review of a yearlong effort to comply with accreditation standards and eligibility requirements from the regional Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges. In the end, City College only met four of 21 eligibility requirements and zero of four accreditation standards, according to the state chancellor's office.

Robert Agrella, who was recently named a special trustee with extraordinary powers to make changes at the college, recently expressed optimism about the chances of saving the school. But he noted that there is no wiggle room for complying with the commission's standards.

"They don't measure us meeting a standard by whether you're 90 percent there or 99 percent there or 50 percent there," Agrella said. "You have to be there in order for you to really meet the standard."

At a three-hour hearing before the board's Government Oversight Committee, students, faculty, staff, community members and elected members of the now-suspended board of trustees expressed frustrations over the decision and pleaded for The City to do what it can to prevent CCSF from closing.

A representative of Tom Ammiano said the state assemblyman is looking at legislative ways to address the questions surrounding the accreditation commission. Meanwhile, Assemblyman Phil Ting has held rallies to encourage students to continue enrolling.

Supervisor John Avalos said he understands that The City cannot direct CCSF over the next year, but suggested that the board continue to hold hearings during the coming months to serve as a way for the public to weigh in and speak their minds.

"It's a vital institution we want to protect," Avalos said. "This hearing is really to educate myself and other elected officials on how important City College is and to have a place to voice concerns about what's happening."

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