Budget deficit causes class cuts at City College

By Matthew Gomez
STAFF WRITER

City College is harshly feeling the effects of the California budget crisis. Serving students from San Francisco, but also other parts of the greater Bay Area, City College is one of the largest community colleges in the country.

Funding is based proportionally on student numbers. As a large school, cuts to City College’s budget amount to more dollars than than those at smaller community colleges in the state. City College has more to lose.

When asked about which departments would be hit hardest by state cuts, Peter Goldstein, vice chancellor of finance and administration, simply said, “All.”

“We will not be able to offer the number of classes students need,” he said.

While enrollment is greater than ever before, City College funding might be cut again for future semesters, according to Goldstein.

“For students, the effect is obvious: Fewer classes mean there is greater competition for classes,” English teacher Jessica Nelson said. “Especially in areas like math and English, areas already heavily impacted.”

“I’m trying to add classes because I wasn’t able to register,” said Maire Fowler, a graduate student from San Francisco State University who is looking to study nursing at City College. “My registration date was mid-July and all the classes I needed were full.”

Jake Murphy transferred from SFSU because he couldn’t get the classes he needed. He wasn’t able to add the classes at City College either, so he just enrolled in enough classes to be a full-time student.

“I’ve been teaching at City College for 15 years and enrollment has never been like this,” said Matthew Kennedy, an instructor at the Behavioral Sciences Department. “Every single section in anthropology is full. That’s never happened before.”

The increase in student numbers and decrease in funding has especially impacted counseling and student support. Lindy McKnight, dean of counseling and student support at City College, said categorical funding for the school has been cut in half.

Services like Extended Opportunity Programs and Services won’t be able to assist as many students as in previous semesters. EOPS focuses on low-income students with educational and counseling service, but also provides them with MUNI passes and childcare services. Due to California state budget cuts, textbook vouchers won’t be available for the fall 2009 semester either, according to the the program’s website.

With a loss of some 3,000 counseling hours, the academic counseling department has shrunk considerably, McKnight said. Counseling for new students will only be available full-time Monday through Thursday. Only three counselors will be present on Fridays and their time will be limited to five minute sessions.

Charles Fracchia, department chair of the library and learning resources centers, said the solution can’t be found in more money but increased efficiency. While his department needs to keep up with the latest technology, its budget has been cut by 10 percent.

Library hours have also been cut from 8:45 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and from 4:45 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. on Fridays, which means evening classes will be affected if a teacher ever wants to hold a screening in the Rosenburg rooms or have a study session in the library.

“How can faculty and staff provide for the distinct needs of our students if the need to offer those services is removed?” Nelson said.

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