400 City College classes saved from cuts, 350 to 400 still planned to be cut next year

By Yomi Akinyemi

In a special meeting to discuss the 2011-2012 preliminary budget June 2, the City College Board of Trustees said it plans to cut 350 to 400 classes, half the previous estimate, due to reduced state funds.

Chancellor Don Griffin said the goal was to focus on eliminating “historically low-enrolled sections,” about 400 to 500 yearly, and “to reach our base and get enrollment growth funds” by adding classes with high demand such as English, math and science.

The board said that the total estimated budget deficit was expected to be between $16.5 million in a best-case scenario and $22 million in the worst case. Vice Chancellor of finance and administration Peter Goldstein said City College expects $8.5 million to $14 million in state funding cuts and about $4.8 million in increased operating costs.

Preliminary budget reports of revenue assumptions and expenditure reductions would fill approximately $20.4 million of the budget gap, which includes a $2 million allocation from the school’s reserve. In a worst case budget scenario, the total revenue assumptions would still leave City College with an operating deficit of $1.6 million.

“We need to look at closing some of our 104 satellite locations, and maybe temporarily suspend some of our more expensive classes such as the airport program … but we need to be adding classes, not cutting them,” Board President John Rizzo said. “Last fall 15,000 students could not get into classes due to budget cuts.”

Rizzo also proposed the board allocate half of the $3.8 million from faculty attrition to pay for classes.

During the monthly board meeting on May 26, Trustee Chris Jackson said he was strongly opposed to closing satellite locations in “low socioeconomic areas” such as community center areas around the Southeast campus. Jackson also urged the board to show better financial responsibility in balancing the budget.

City College hopes an increase in student fees, from $26 to $36 per unit, along with various cost cutting measures, will help raise the $4 million it needs to pay for classes affected by the budget shortfall.

Trustee Steve Ngo, chairman of the budget and planning committee, expressed his frustration at some allocated funds including the $4 million City College budgets for “non-instructional assignments,” which include an ESL letter editor and a speech team.

“We could be using the $4 million to help save classes,” Ngo said. “Also, if the situation is so dire, departmental reserves of about $2 million should be tapped, as to help balance the budget.”

The board of trustees said it expects to have a finalized budget proposal and a more concrete plan on ways to tackle the budget deficit at its next board meeting on June 23.

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