By Joe Fitzgerald
$1.9 million in classes cut; 3000 students denied classes
The City College Board of Trustees voted to approve a budget of $191 million for the
remainder of the college’s 2011-2012 fiscal year. This budget includes cutting a whopping $1.9
million in funding for classes, a sacrifice made in the face of an ongoing statewide fiscal crisis.
“It’s not a perfect budget… but I think on balance it reflects the budget in this state and
elsewhere,” said Trustee Steve Ngo, who is also the chair of the budget committee.
When reached for comment, Vice Chancellor of Administration and Finance Peter
Goldstein said that originally the school had planned to cut $3.8 million from classes, but found
other means of savings to lower that number to $1.9 million.
“I think it’s really a case of the state turning away students, rather than the college,”
Goldstein said in a phone interview.
City College has actually increased it’s enrollment of students this semester, a strategy
which, under state budget rules, should generate more state funding for the college.
The state however is still hemorrhaging money, and automatic “triggers” in the budget
from Sacramento will almost certainly reduce City College’s state allocation by a further $13.38
The college’s $191 million budget was crafted with the expectation that those triggers will
be pulled. Meanwhile other avenues to save money at the college are being explored.
Money in the abyss
Recently the Board of Trustees became aware that even as they continue to make cuts
in classes, $6.5 million in a section of the budget called “non-instructional funds” cannot be
“I had no idea when the chancellor asked me to do this what I was getting into. It’s a
monster,” said Interim Vice Chancellor of Student Development Lindy McKnight. McKnight is in
charge of finding out on a department by department basis exactly where that $6.5 million is
“There are many coding problems,” McKnight said at the Sept. 22 board meeting. “ESL
Newsletter is in the list [of codes], but according to the chair of that department they haven’t paid
anyone to do that in almost a decade.”
“Last week the committee sent spreadsheets to every department chair and are getting
them to list what every activity was,” she said. “We’re not there yet.”
Peter Goldstein explained that $3.1 million of the fund has been looked at and verified,
but there was still $2.75 million left to analyze. He said that they would have a full line-item
accounting of the non-instructional fund by Nov. 30.
Librarians and student health personnel are paid out of the non-instructional fund, and
thus far have escaped some of the drastic cuts other departments have faced. The board of
trustees sought to find out exactly why this was at the Sept. 22 meeting.
“We have 85 [faculty] positions being eliminated and these [non-instructional personell]
are not being cut? Why is that?” Board of Trustees President John Rizzo asked Goldstein.
Goldstein answered “For tenure review it’s in the AFT contract. There have to be
committees that look at that. There are assignments that go hand in hand with some of those
Rizzo leaned forward and asked, “We’re cutting $1.9 million in classes and these
categories can’t be touched?”
“Not for the Fall [semester]” Goldstein said.
Quick Facts –
That’s the exact amount of classes and courses we’re losing this year in dollars,
compared to last year. It can be roughly equated to turning away 3,000 students from needed
classes. This won’t affect the current semester, but will hit the coming spring and summer
That’s the amount the non-instructional fund: paying for things like honors coursework,
librarians’ salaries, and health services on campus. The school currently has only a limited idea
of how this money is spent.
85 faculty members
As teachers and faculty retire and/or quit the school, City College plans to not hire new
faculty to replace them. This saves money for the school by eliminating positions entirely. This
limits student assistance (like financial aid or tutoring), says Clara Starr, director of human
resources for City College.