By Sara Bloomberg
First it was budget cuts — in the last fiscal year alone, the state cut $17 million from City College’s coffers.
In order to keep the school running as close to normal as possible, college administrators dipped into its financial reserves — a move that saved many classes, jobs and benefits for workers.
Then just as summer session began, the Accrediting Commission of Community and Junior Colleges put the college on sanction for not having sufficient financial resources, among other things, and gave the Board of Trustees approximately eight months to make an effective plan.
If the college doesn’t present a solid plan within that timeframe, the commission may revoke the school’s accreditation — a requirement to receive federal funding — which would render the college’s degrees worthless.
“If the school wasn’t here, I wouldn’t be able to help myself… help myself,” said student Jamel Burrell, 45, at a speakout in Ram Plaza on August 15, the first day of classes.
Associated Students President Shanell Williams emceed the speakout to bring attention to the issues facing the school.
“You all need to get active,” Williams said over the sound system as students buzzed around, to and from their classes.
“We’re not gonna let our school get privatized,” Williams continued. “Wake up.”
Just a few hundred feet away from Ram Plaza, a handful of Occupy Bay Area supporters stationed themselves near the base of Ocean campus and passed out fliers against what they consider austerity measures that the state is imposing on the college.
One of the commission’s requirements is that the college re-evaluate its mission statement on a regular basis to reflect fiscal realities — starting now.
Twelve workgroups comprised of administrators, faculty, staff and students have formed to address the commission’s fourteen recommendations by October 15, which is when the college’s board will have to present a preliminary report to the accreditation team.
The workgroup, tasked with reworking the mission statement, presented a new draft on August 14 to the board of trustees.
Most of the mission statement remains the same, but includes more language about student success, learning outcomes and the reality of scarce financial resources.
“In addition, the college offers other programs and services supplementary to our mission, only as resources allow,” according to the newest draft of the mission statement, “and whenever possible in collaboration with partnering agencies and community based organizations.”
“We are in crisis mode,” Interim Chancellor Pamila Fisher said at the August 14 meeting, and explained that the mission statement has to be revised before other problem areas can be fully addressed.
The workgroup will present an updated draft to the board on August 23 and then a final reading is scheduled for September 11.