Reductions in the number of class sections offered, pulling back on non-teaching costs, fundraising and in the most drastic case, complete elimination of winter and summer sessions next year are some of the things being considered to help PCC cope with the current budget crisis.At the Board of Trustees meeting on Jan. 19, Interim Vice President of Administrative Services Richard van Pelt presented to the board three scenarios for what he called a “bleak” outlook for next year.
The presentation was based on California Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed 2011-2012 state budget released on Jan. 10.
“At this point,” said PCC President Mark Rocha, “we don’t see a way to have a budget for [2011-2012] without some reductions.”
In the midst of a budget crisis in California, PCC’s worst-case scenario would be a $16.4 million cut and the best-case scenario would be a budget cut of $5.3 million; how drastic they are depends on the state’s voters.
During the Jan. 19 board meeting, Rocha said that PCC is being asked to reduce full time student enrollment by roughly 2,500 and the chancellor of California Community Colleges, Jack Scott, has been “adamant” about this for the state’s colleges.
Rocha has insisted that nothing has been decided yet, but one way to “balance the budget against the cut,” would be to cut both winter and summer sessions in the 2011-2012 academic year.
Trustee Anthony Fellows said about 8,000 admitted students were ultimately turned away from PCC this past year due to limited resources on campus. Considering the new reductions that the budget scenarios present, Fellows said, “It’s going to be a tough time.”
Associated Students President Jamie Hammond was taken aback by the grim outlook of the budget cuts.
“It’s unfortunate. The college has been in a pretty good situation until this point. But other colleges have been experiencing this for the past four years,” she said. “I feel really helpless.”
Rocha planned to visit Sacramento and Washington D.C. to see what can be done about the education budget. On campus, committees have been reconstituted to oversee the budget changes.
“Part of the solution here is that we’re going to have to expand revenue,” said Rocha. “I cannot say we can get through this year without reductions everywhere. It’s not possible.”
Board Vice President Geoffrey Baum stressed the importance of being an advocate for students.
“This is a tragedy in some ways, to see… a community college system become a scarce resource [and] that people will have to scramble and compete with each other to have access to education,” Baum said. “And to add insult to injury, we’re going to increase fees charged to students by another thirty-some percent. I think students are going to have to play. Their voices are as powerful as anybody’s.”
“It will be painful,” said Baum. “It will not be easy and folks will be impacted.”
Despite the possible outcomes that California will face come June, Rocha is facing the situation “realistically,” and a plan of action has already been set into motion.
“What we’ll be doing beginning this month is there will be two committees: Enrollment Management Committee (which looks at class schedule) and the Budget Resource Allocation Committee,” said Rocha in an interview. “Those committees are composed of faculty, staff and students. We’ll get all the information, which is a public record anyway, and they will begin to review what the options are.”
Rocha has made it clear, though, that no decisions have been made yet, but the committees are preparing for the worst.
In the interview, Rocha said that he knows that students, faculty and staff are concerned with cuts and students not being able to get the classes they need.
“We are going to put students first,” said Rocha. “The Board of Trustees and I don’t support [the fee increase] and that decision isn’t made here. Sometimes there’s confusion among students that we get to set our own tuition but that’s set up in Sacramento.”
Though things look discouraging, Rocha and van Pelt assure that PCC will get through the situation.
“There are no simple answers, as this is a very complex problem,” van Pelt said. “The options will inevitably lead to a leaner PCC, where we focus on our core mission. We need to evaluate every dollar spent against our core mission, and trim anything that does not significantly contribute to our success in that regard.
“There is no doubt in my mind that PCC will come out of this crisis stronger and better,” van Pelt continued. “We have a problem that affects all of us, and it will take us all to overcome it.”
“If we fight among each other, it doesn’t help because the real fight is with Sacramento,” Rocha said. “I realize the economy is bad, but I agree with Chancellor Scott that this is the exact wrong thing to do. We need to come together and advocate that one message and I’m hopeful that we will
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