The current low enrollment epidemic affects both students and faculty members on campus with canceled classes as well as financial issues for the school.
In terms of running a college, the school receives money from the state based on the number of FTES (Full Time Equivalent Student). Each semester the number of FTES enrolled each year is expected to increase, but when the school does not reach the growth number expected, it looses money.
In the Sept. 22 story “Low Enrollment Epidemic Hits GCC, Classes Canceled,” former Vice President of Instructional Services, Steve White, said that an FTES is one credit or non-credit student enrolled at Glendale College.
He said that the college receives about $3,900 to $4,000 for one credit FTES and around $2,200 for one non-credit FTES. He also said, “The school receives about $70,000,000 for about 16,000 credit and non-credit FTES enrolled at GCC.”
The money that the college acquires from the state is used to operate the school. With low enrollment, the school cannot gain enough capital needed to compensate for the use of instructors, utilities and student services.
According to Vice President of Administrative Services, Larry Serot, the direct cost of instruction for a professor is about $4,200 and that does not include the utilities or maintenance of the classroom.
For instance, current Vice President of Instructional Services Dawn Lindsay said that a three unit class with six students only generates $2,900 for the school. With $2,900, it is not enough to pay for an instructor and the other costs needed to fund the school so the class may get canceled.
“When you take the instructor’s salary out of [$2,900] and then look at the electricity, water, grounds keeping and maintenance [of the campus]… it isn’t enough,” she said.
Lindsay also said that even if a three unit class has reached the bare minimum of 15 students, it acquires $7,050 for the college while another class with 27 students or so will attain $13,052. If a class with 15 students or more enrolled, the class is able to maintain a budget that benefits the school.
Serot said that the Office of Instruction is in charge of balancing the total budget that is given to the school in order to make the campus more efficient by deciding which classes to keep and which classes have to be canceled.
“We are not automatically canceling classes,” said Lindsay. “If there are classes running with less than 15 people in it, we’re looking at some issues of not being financially responsible. However, we do keep a few specialty classes because we felt that they [the classes] needed to continue.”
“We [the administrators] are working very hard to be responsible with the money used for the college,” she said. “We have to make sure that the money we’re generating [from the FTES] is used wisely.”
According to Serot, managing education along with economics is a balancing act.
Lindsay said that people need to understand to be really viable from a fiscal perspective because the more efficient the school is, the better off the campus is even though classes are canceled in the process.
“We’re in the market of educating students,” she said. “That’s what we have a passion for doing and that’s what we’re responsible for [because] there are a lot of variables in dealing with enrollment management.”
“There are all kinds of strategies [in dealing with enrollment] and we’re trying to make the class scheduling easier for the students,” she said.
“When there are classes with low enrollment, the school isn’t being fiscally smart because there will be classes that will not have high enrollment rates that students may need [for a certificate or a certain degree].”
The school’s goal is to be as efficient in education as well as economically, but it is a hard task because of the funds and management that is required.
“Canceling classes is not a bad thing,” said Serot. “The college isn’t in the position to just offer classes that no student is going to take. It’s why we cancel small classes and student should know that we keep a real effort to keep a class open.”
According to Lindsay, the school has to look at data in the past in order to evaluate the number of students and schedule better time frames for classes.
“You have to understand your consumers, the students; because you want to make sure that you’re addressing their needs.”
“Classes are canceled because of low enrollment, but managing the classes is really difficult because we only have so many classroom spaces available,” she said.
“We have to look at the needs, demands, availability and scheduling to make sure that a student can take more than one class a day.”