Community colleges suffer budget cuts
Posted September 29, 2009 at 11:47 pm in News
Students trying to take courses at community colleges in California are facing challenges after stimulus funds fell short of expectations, forcing another round of budget cuts.
The California State Legislature hoped to receive about $130 million in stimulus funds from the federal government for the stateâs 110 community colleges, which was calculated based on the stateâs 2008 budget. Instead, the state only received between $35 million and $37 million this fall, according to Vice Chancellor of California Community Colleges Terri Carbaugh. This substantial difference in funds means budget cuts for the community college system.
âWeâve asked all of our college presidents to focus on our priorities,â Carbaugh said. âWeâve told them to take a look at the courses [with] less focus on the mission and ask: Is this really a priority?â
The budget cuts will hit community colleges across the state, and could affect students who want to transfer to four-year schools like USC. Schools will have to decide whether to cut various student services, classes or faculty to make up for the deficits, Carbaugh said.
Glendale Community College has already begun to feel the effects of the cuts. Interim Superintendent/President Dawn Lindsay said the college will have to cut classes, faculty, services and likely its second summer session.
âWeâre doing everything we can to keep cuts away from classes,â Lindsay said.
At College of the Canyons, located in Valencia, the cuts ran as deep as $11 million.
âThis year, we took another hit,â said Sue Bozman, a College of the Canyons spokeswoman. âWe cut back on advertising and we cut back on supplies. Then it got to a point where we needed to make cuts in staff, [and] we needed to cut back on the number of classes we were offering.â
According to Bozman, these cuts have an intense impact on the collegeâs students.
âWeâre right now seeing a tidal wave of people trying to get classes. Many people are on waitlist and not getting the classes they need,â Bozman said.
For prospective students who wish to transfer to USC, classes that are cut or completely filled can turn out to be a significant setback because it makes it difficult for them to get the courses they need to transfer.
Alesia FortĂ© is in her first semester at West Los Angeles College and hopes to transfer to USC in one year. Like other students at community colleges, it was difficult for her to take the required classes.
âI was going to go to El Camino [Community College], but it was impossible to get into the classes I needed,â FortĂ© said.
FortĂ© also said that certain student services were suffering because of the budget cuts.
âFor counseling services, the lines are out the door,â FortĂ© said. âThere are signs that say administrators and counselors have been out because of the economy.â
Tim Brunold, associate dean and director of undergraduate admission at USC, said the budget cuts can cause problems from students trying to take classes that will transfer.
â[Itâll be] more challenging to find courses we want [students] to take,â said Tim Brunold, associate dean and director of undergraduate admission at USC. âIt might require them to be a little more flexible and to look at several community colleges to see if their courses are offered there. But itâs challenging to predict the exact impact this is going to have.â
But Bozman said the budget cuts wouldnât affect transfer students much, because they were less likely to cut general education classes than more specialized classes.
For now, community colleges have to brace themselves for an even harder coming year because of the down economy.
âWe expect deeper cuts in the 2010/2011 year unless something changes on the other side. This is a long lasting recession,â Carbaugh said.