New State Bill Paves the Way for $3 Million in Funds

El Vaquero News Editor

Students now have less to worry about when it comes to paying for college, as tuition fees all over the state have been lowered from $26 to $20 per unit. SB 361, a college finance bill that provides a source of equalized funding to community colleges, paved the way for an allocation of $3 million to GCC for the academic year.

At a press conference held in the library on Tuesday, Senator Jack Scott, California Community Colleges Chancellor Mark Drummond, and California State Secretary of Education Alan Bersin, introduced the bill to a huge number of faculty, staff, and students, as well as members of the college administration and the board of trustees.
President/superintendent Audre Levy greeted and introduced the legislators. “This is very exciting, especially for the students,” Levy said. “We are lucky to have individuals in the legislature who look out for us.”

“SB 361 is the blockbuster of all blockbusters,” said Bersin. “Community colleges at this juncture are the most important [part] of the educational system. They are the recipients of a historic budget.”

SB 361, authored by Senator Jack Scott (D-Altadena), who represents Glendale and Burbank, fully equalizes per-student California Community Colleges credit funding, allowing all community college districts to be provided with equalresources.
The new legislation specifies that the state budget will distribute more than $159 million to fully accomplish educational goals, such as funding non-credit courses, and that funding will continue to remain equalized in the future. Approximately $3 million has been allocated to GCC.

Bersin commended Scott’s efforts to pursue the signing of the bill. “There is no stronger advocate for community colleges in Sacramento other than Senator Scott,” Bersin said.

He added that the bill’s equalization formula “will ensure that we never grow those [funding] gaps again.”

Drummond, who heads the state community college system, said that the bill will supposedly solve “three major issues”: the unequal funding on a per-student basis throughout the academic year; the lack of funding for non-credit courses such as basic skills and citizenship classes; and the lack of assurance that funding will remain equalized in the future.

He expressed hopes that the increase in funding would encourage enrollment growth.

Scott, who has worked with community colleges for 23 years, said that he “vowed to carry this bill from the very beginning. I vowed that I would be a great friend to the community college … it is the least expensive but most productive segment of education.”
Scott acknowledged Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for signing the bill, adding that the governor “cares deeply about community colleges” and showed “wonderful cooperation.”

The senator also said that he has been acquainted with GCC for many years and has observed its “tremendous physical transformation.”

He expressed hopes that the bill will help further the school’s quality of education. “I hope that it will enrich the life of GCC,” he said.

Students expressed their appreciation for the bill by coming to the conference with banners reading “Thank you” and “GCC for SB 361.”

ASGCC president David Arakelyan, who was present at the conference along with other members of the Associated Students, said that he believes students will greatly benefit from SB 361.

“Equalization is a big issue,” Arakelyan said. “Glendale [College] was among the bottom four [in the state] when it comes to funding per full-time student [FTS]. Hopefully the bill will change that since it calls for making funding more fair.”

Steve White, Vice President of Instruction, agreed. “This bill is very big and very important, especially for our programs and our students.”

Board of Trustees member Anita Quinonez-Gabrielian said she believes that the bill will affect students “incredibly positively. It will allow us to have additional staff, additional classes, faculty, and technology-this will reflect in the number of graduates and the transfer rate. The students are winners with this bill.”