School’s closure would impact local economy, study says

San Francisco District 1 Supervisor Eric Mar chairs a hearing on the importance of City College at a Board of Supervisor’s Budget and Finance Committee meeting on Wed., Sept. 18, 2013, at the City Hall of San Francisco, Calif. Photo by Santiago Mejia/The Guardsman

San Francisco District 1 Supervisor Eric Mar chairs a hearing on the importance of City College at a Board of Supervisor’s Budget and Finance Committee meeting on Wed., Sept. 18, 2013, at the City Hall of San Francisco, Calif. Photo by Santiago Mejia/The Guardsman

By Keith Burbank:

San Francisco’s budget and legislative analyst Severin Campbell recently released a report at the San Francisco Board of Supervisor’s Budget and Finance Committee meeting Sept. 18., analyzing the $300 million economic impact City College’s closure would have on the city.

According to the study, City College employs about 2,500 people and serves nearly 80,000 students, all of which would be affected by the school’s closure.

About 20 people attended the meeting, including students, former students, City College instructors and several city supervisors.

“This report quantifies what generations of San Franciscans have known. CCSF is San Francisco’s indispensable engine of opportunity and economic activity,” Supervisor Eric Mar, District 1, said. “The entire city must remain focused on preserving our City College and resolving this crisis.”

Campbell calculated the $300 million figure by adding together the tax and grant money the college garners from federal and state sources with the market value of jobs City College graduates could obtain in the workforce.

The college brought about $188 million in state and federal tax and grant money to the city in the 2011-2012 fiscal year, according to Campbell’s report.

The market value of jobs graduates could obtain in the workforce is $123 million according to the report. The college’s economic impact on San Francisco equals approximately $311 million.

Mar said most, if not all, people in San Francisco benefit from City College. He highlighted the benefits to the city’s most vulnerable populations such as english-language learners and people pursuing their high school diplomas.

“In spring 2013, more than 5,000 CCSF students did not have a high school diploma,” according to the report. “If these students were not able to obtain a high school diploma … each student would lose estimated annual earnings of $8,840.”

Non-english speaking students face a greater threat to earnings. They would earn an estimated $13,500 less each year than a person who speaks English well, based on a U.S. Census Bureau study cited in the report. In Spring 2013, City College enrolled 16,000 students in the ESL program.

“City College is a pathway out of poverty,” Noe Valley resident and staff research associate at San Francisco General Hospital Jose Luis Pavon said. “City College is a pathway to the middle class.”

Pavon asked what other pathway people have if they shut down City College. He told the budget committee and others in attendance that he suspects crime rates and drug abuse will go up if the college shuts down.

“Do we want prisons or do we want schools?” Terrilynn Cantlon, a graduate of City College said.

A 2003 study, published in the American Economic review by two economics professors, says “schooling significantly reduces the probability of incarceration.”

Campbell’s report shows the low cost of City College is another benefit to residents of San Francisco and the Bay Area.

Currently, California residents pay only $46 per credit hour, compared to $395 to $765 per credit hour “to attend comparable two-year programs at private for-profit or non-profit colleges,” according to the report.

Even if students can afford to attend another community college, they may not be able to because other community colleges may not have the capacity to absorb the nearly 80,000 students attending City College.

Students that are able to transfer to the California State University system would pay $5,000 more per year for the same number of credits they take at City College.

 

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