Community Colleges Suffer $149 Million Cut

Agnes Constante, El Vaquero Copyeditor

California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott announced on Feb. 21 that community colleges throughout the state will suffer an unexpected $149 million cut.

“Because of the poor economy, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of students receiving the California Community Colleges Board of Governors Fee Waiver,” Scott said in a statement. “This alone accounts for $107 million of the added shortfall. As a state, we need to recognize the lasting damage that the disinvestment in higher education is having and commit to properly funding our colleges and universities.”

Community colleges in California suffered a $400 million cut for the 2011-12 school year, and endured an additional $102 million reduction in December due to a shortfall in state revenue projections.

Ron Nakasone, vice president of administrative services, said the college is expected to lose about $1.95 million because of Cailfornia’s deficit in property taxes and enrollment fees.

Because the spring semester has already begun, the college cannot cut classes as a means of saving money, Nakasone said.

Mary Mirch, vice president of instructional services, said the college is now scheduling a 120-class summer. Last summer there were 203 classes offered.

Options to save money are limited, and so far GCC has implemented a purchasing freeze where purchase orders have to be approved by vice presidents. Only ones that are necessary are being released.

“We are also looking at cuts to hourly and student workers but there is no way we will be able to find $1.95 million of savings. The loss of funds will put the college at risk of meeting the 5 percent recommended level of reserves at the end of this school year,” Nakasone said.

According to Andra Verstraete, director of job placement and internships, funding for student workers comes from two sources: federal work-study and GCC’s general fund.

Romy Griepp, 22, English, is concerned it will take her longer before she transfers out of GCC because of the continuing cuts.

“In the end I know getting a degree and transferring is achievable for anyone who comes to community colleges, but these budget cuts are making it harder and harder,” she said. “And I think it reflects a general societal change that education is becoming compartmentalized to the point where it’s harder to find what you want.”

The ongoing crisis has upset Tracy Beauchamp, 49, drug and alcohol studies.

“Why do they keep cutting these budgets, and still expect us to survive? It’s not going to work,” she said.