Learning Assistance Center struggles with severe budget cuts

The Guardsman

By Einar Sevilla

Despite having to make cuts to their budget along with the rest of City College, the Learning Assistance Center staff and tutors are hoping to maintain their academic support program as a place where students can still get help.

The LAC offers peer/staff tutoring in: business, technology, science, composition, foreign languages, social science, math and engineering, as well as computer lab services and college success courses.

It serves roughly 4,000 students a semester, or approximately 45,000 hours of service, according to Nadine Rosenthal, chair of the Learning Assistance department.

“[The LAC] is a place that helps you improve your grades,” said second-year-student Isabel Zamarron who spends around five hours a day in the tutoring center.

“You get so much help from tutors because they are people in the same position,” she added, “it’s students helping students.”

“The LAC has helped me achieve not only my [academic] goals, but gain knowledge as well.” Ronnie Robison, a student at City College since 2006, said. “If the LAC closed, I wouldn’t have any place to go. I wouldn’t have anybody to work with me.”

The LAC has been able to maintain most tutoring and computer lab services despite the cuts made to faculty and staff, Rosenthal said.

“Though we have less faculty, staff and tutors, we’re still going strong,”

The LAC is now closed on Saturdays, but Math 860: Intermediate Algebra and calculus tutoring will still be offered in Bungalow 602 on Saturdays, while the writing lab is also open that day on the fifth floor of the Rosenberg Library.

When Saturday tutoring was cut, the Math 860, calculus and composition branches chose to keep themselves open because those branches were heavily utilized, and staff wanted to be able to serve students even though the LAC would be closed.

Cuts were also made by eliminating those teachers gaining extra money for tutoring, as well as by cutting part-time instructors, and full-time faculty on overload, and those teaching college success courses.

The math, composition and chemistry tutoring are the most heavily used areas of the LAC, Rosenthal said, so students may have to wait longer to see a tutor but see one nonetheless.

There is a freeze on hiring of classified staff, such as the secretary the LAC lost last semester, and there are fewer tutors throughout the academic support programs, Rosenthal said.

“The cuts we’ve sustained are pretty much average,” she said, adding that she feels the LAC has made its fair share of cuts.

Rosenthal said that the City College administration has been sustaining academic support programs by keeping them alive rather than eliminating them completely. She feels it is important that, “students know people have a place to come get help.”

The LAC summer session budget has yet to be approved, but Rosenthal said that she is hopeful that normal summer hours will be in place.

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