78 classes cut at last minute — Faculty upset about how cuts were made

By Thomas Figg-Hoblyn
The Guardsman

City College lost $13 million from state budget cuts during the fiscal year, forcing school officials to chop 78 class courses from the Spring 2012 schedule – many of which had already been filled to capacity.

Darlene Alioto, President of the Department Chairperson Council, had to cancel three history classes in her section that she says were highly enrolled.
“My 9 to 10 a.m. class had 38 people in it,” Alioto said.

Physics Department Chair, Diana Markham had a Physics 10 lecture and a Physics 10 lab cut this semester, both of which are transferable to four-year universities.
“They were both totally full,” Markham said.

Currently there are 538 students in Physics 10 lecture classes, with only 135 lab spaces available.

Markham is holding a “Celebrating Physics” open house on Feb. 16 from 3 to 5 p.m., followed by a fundraising dinner.  Her department has raised $10,000 to pay for two physics classes.

Leo Paz, department chair for the Philippine Studies program, said that 25 percent of his section has been cut. Paz heads one of only Philippine study departments in the country.

Paz said he appealed to have a Philipino language class with a traditionally lower enrollment cut instead of a more popular Filipino Family course.  His appeal was denied.

Min Ta, a City College administrator, said the initial cut of Spring classes was as high as 4 percent “across the board.” This would be followed by a second cut of 32 classes.

Registration for Spring 2012 had already been underway for several weeks when some classes taught by retired faculty or those with less than four semesters teaching were cut, regardless of enrollment numbers.

Chairpersons did their best to balance their programs in face of this by targeting only low enrollment classes, Alioto said.

She added that many students enrolled in cut courses were veterans, guardian scholars, and recent high school students that had been granted early registration in an attempt to lessen the achievement gap.

Veteran Marc Salgado discovered his Engineering 38 had been cancelled the very first day of class.

“A guy walked into the room and said ‘sorry class in cancelled’,” Salgado said. “I needed that class to transfer to San Francisco State.”

Salgado is in his fourth semester at City College, majoring in civil engineering. There were no alternatives available due to all other comparable classes being full, he said.

Giovanni Valdez, also an engineering major, found out the same day his  Energy 3 class had too been cut.  Valdez said he was able to find an online class as an alternative.  “Maybe that is the way of the future, to save money,” he said.

Following extensive cuts, department chairpersons affected by the cuts requested Alioto draft a letter to formerly express their frustration over the last minute order for additional cuts to the Spring 2012 schedule.

The letter asserts that if chairpersons had been allowed to abide by the current American Federation of Teachers’ contract, they would not have had to cut highly enrolled classes on December 21.

Department chairs also requested that City College administrators allow them to manage future reductions in accordance with what they deem best for their respective departments.

“We have always been cooperative, let us do the cutting,” Paz said. “Just tell us how much needs to be cut.”

During the Jan. 26 Board of Trustees meeting, City College chancellor Griffin and Board members John Rizzo, Steve Ngo and Chris Jackson stressed working together to overcome state deficits.

“City College is getting killed by state budget cuts,” Griffin said.

During the same meeting, the Board of Trustees unanimously approved a resolution supporting the “Millionaire’s Tax,” a state ballot initiative that seeks to restore public education in California.

In August 2011, the Board of Trustees approved a resolution to put the parcel tax, authored by Rizzo and Jackson, on the November 2012 San Francisco ballot.

Peter Goldstein, Vice Chancellor of Finance and Administration, said City College’s annual operating budget is approximately $27 million less now than it was before budget cuts began.

Goldstein said City College currently faces another $2 million in budget deficit right from state-wide student fee shortfalls, and could face losing an additional $8 million, should Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax initiative fail.

“Ultimately we all need to come together and work as adults,” Griffin said. “Losing almost $30 million is the worst event that City College has ever faced.”

The Guardsman