By Brianne Mcclaflin / Asstistant News Editor
By Brianne Mcclaflin / Asstistant News Editor
The main message conveyed during the editorial briefing on Sept. 26, held by California’s Community College Chancellor’s Office, was that colleges are at risk if Proposition 30 does not pass this November.
Students of California’s Community Colleges have been faced with fewer class selection, fewer instructors, decreased enrollment, higher fees and larger class sizes.
The Community College system has been cut by 12 percent, or $809 million, over the past eight years. Now colleges are facing a possible $338 million cut this January if Proposition 30 does not pass.
The California Community College’s Active Chancellor, Erik Skinner, the Vice Chancellor for College Finance Dan Troy, and the Student Senate President of California Community College, Rich Copenhagen, held a media teleconference with various California Community College reporters and faculty advisors, to discuss the budget and the Proposition 30 ballot initiative.
Proposition 30 is a tax initiative that will increase sales tax by 12 percent, or one-fourth of a cent, for four years, and will increase income tax on households earning more than $500,000 for seven years. If Proposition 30 is rejected, nearly $6 billion dollars will be cut in education.
“Look at the grand scale, you have these cuts that come to class size cuts. Enormous amounts of money are being reduced from their budget, class room sizes are increased, which lowers the quality of teaching,” Copenhagen said.
“We have our support services… These services empower students who may not have the opportunities, and we are cutting those.”
“These cuts are targeting students who need it the most,” Skinner said.
Skinner said that even though there is more of a demand for college education, due to the largest graduating class in history and because of the unemployed seeking to further their education, the state is not able to fund this demand. The budget cuts are undermining the opportunity to supply the demand of enrollment.
“A lot of tough news; a lot of bad news. Colleges are staying focused on their mission, to serve as many students as best that we can, with what we have,” Skinner said.
The only control colleges have to easily reduce spending is by either turning away students or cutting course options. Transferred courses are cut less often than non-transferrable. This means that art courses are the most likely to be cut.
The question was raised on how California is going to stay competitive as a state. Troy said, “(College education is) an investment. For every dollar they receive $4.50. (There is a) big return on education, and we need to make this, to be competitive and to go forward.”
An informal survey was conducted by the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, which stated that 70 percent of colleges have lower enrollment than last year, 70 percent are offering fewer course selections compared to last fall, 87 percent reduced staffing levels over the last few years due to budget cuts (many in part-time faculty), and 80 percent have wait-lists for fall courses with an average of 7,252 students on its wait-lists. Within the last three years colleges reduced summer and winter sessions by 50 percent.
Troy, the expert on the budget, said that if Proposition 30 passes Community Colleges will receive $210 million in new money. He admits that this money will not go directly to the classrooms, but will go toward paying back deferral. About 50 million will fund growth or new enrollment, and the rest to deferment. Colleges that have to borrow to provide services are called a deferral.
If Proposition 30 does not pass, they estimate the total loss of students to be around $180,000.
“After all the loss,” Troy said, “We can’t take this.”
Troy also wanted to make it clear that Proposition 38 does not provide aid to Community Colleges. Since Proposition 30 and 38 are both tax initiatives, only one can pass. Therefore, the proposition with the most votes will pass.
“Another round of budget cuts can be the final straw that breaks the camel’s back,” Troy said.
Copenhagen gives his own opinion on the tax cuts on higher education, and the importance of the tax proposal.
“California has devalued higher education. It is not a matter of politics or taxing on who, it is a tax proposal that is a clear step in the right direction,” Copenhagen said.
“We will face a California that looks very different. We will lose the ability to train workers, raise well informed children, and lose the path to a career they want to go towards. We will be shipping out to other school in other states.”