RCCD fights its biggest challenge

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By Javier Cabrera / Editor-in-chief

By Javier Cabrera / Editor-in-chief

With the presidential election crawling closer, California Community Colleges, along with their faculty and students, are preparing to witness a make-or-break deal that can impact the future of Community Colleges in a positive or negative way.

The deal is the outcome of Proposition 30, which increases California’s sales taxes by one-fourth of a cent and adds an income tax surcharge to residents of the state who earn more than $250,000 annually. The tax is scheduled to expire after four years and the income tax component is scheduled to end after seven years.

Gregory Gray, the chancellor of Riverside Community College District, said Proposition 30 helps Community Colleges and would save RCCD from an $8.2 million deficit; which would go into play in the District’s second term that starts in January if the proposition fails on the Nov. 6 California ballot.

The RCCD Board of Trustees voted 4-0 on the 2012-2013 academic year budget for the District on Sept. 18, as the board is aware that the budget can change down the road.

Chancellor Gray said the District is preparing for a Plan B, in case the proposition fails, as he is scheduled to meet with a group of 45 people, which include faculty members and students at a meeting on Sept. 21 at the Riverside City College culinary arts center at 8 a.m.

Gray said he and the Board of Trustees are going to listen to others as they pitch ideas to them about how the District can reduce $8.2 million from its budget if Proposition 30 does not win on Nov. 6.

He said his job at the Sept. 21 meeting is get everyone updated with the latest condition of the District.

“I am going to remind everyone of the District’s fiscal (policy), in terms of the reductions we have taken with the budget in the past four years, totaling $60 million,” Gray said.

He said everyone at the meeting will look at the state mandate cut, which is $8.2 million that is expect to affect 1,808 full time equivalent students in the District.

“It is important for all of us to understand the numbers,” Gray said.

Along with the meeting on Sept. 21, Gray said he has been talking with the District’s financial management team and they are going through an idea that would allow the District to borrow money to get through the year and have the reductions take place over an 18 month period if RCCD is faced with an $8.2 million cut.

Gray said he is submitting an opinions editorial to The Press-Enterprise at the end of the October, which outlines his approval on Proposition 30.

The District is also submitting a formal letter to The Press-Enterprise that indicates the support the Board of Trustees has received from faculty and students on the resolution the board voted for in August which states RCCD’s support for Proposition 30.

Gray said the District has constituent groups with money, who are going to put out an ad on behalf of RCCD in The Press-Enterprise that indicates the District is supporting Proposition 30.

He said he has been trying to educate as many people as he can on the difference between Proposition 30 and 38. Proposition 38 raises $10 billion a year in a span of 12 years but it does not support Community Colleges, only K-12.

Gray said he encourages everyone to spread the word and tell everyone that there is a difference between the two propositions, and everyone needs to support 30 and reject 38.

“(Proposition) 38 will hurt us,” Gray said.

The Riverside City College faculty union has publicly announce its support for Proposition 30, after it agreed in a unanimously decision, according to Mark Sellick, vice president of the union.

“The main reason the union is voting for Prop 30 (is because it) funds Community College education whereas Prop 38 only funds K-12 and early childhood education, but not early childhood education that is associated with RCC,” he said. “We are defending our District, our students, our faculty and our institution.”

The Associated Students of RCC, Norco College and Moreno Valley College are also supporting Proposition 30 as all three are advocating for it.

“We are trying our best to advocate for this prop and publicize it as much as possible,” said Noemi Jubaer, the RCCD student trustee. “We need to get the word out; it is about education right now.”

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