After years of drastic cuts to education, Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed 2013-14 budget includes increased funding of $197 million for California community colleges in addition to the $179 million colleges will be receiving due to the passage of Proposition 30.

 California Community Colleges Chancellor Brice Harris was ecstatic about the news and said in a statement: “This budget represents a good start toward financial recovery for our [college] system. The governor and voters deserve credit for beginning this overdue reinvestment.”

 The governor’s budget directs the California Community Colleges Board of Governors to determine the best way to allocate the funds to districts.

  Some of the aspects of the proposed budget are the shifting of responsibilities of adult education – now performed at K-12 – schools to community colleges. It also directs that $17 million be used to develop a “virtual campus” of 250 new online courses.

 The additional funds will be helpful, says PCC Interim Director of Distance Education Leslie Tirapelle.“We never had a large online program [here at PCC]. It’s something that we’re just starting to grow,” said Tirapelle. “Online courses have always grown organically here and not strategically, but now we’re starting to think strategically about the online program and the new funds will help.”

 Tirapelle expressed some concerns about the details in the budget especially how the funds will be distributed. “We’re very excited about the proposal…but are there strings attached?” she asked.

 Chancellor Harris says that the California community college system has already laid the groundwork for the governor’s desire to improve online education. Twenty-seven percent of community college students take at least one course online each year and nearly 17 percent of all courses offered are through distance education, he said.

 Selina Yap, biology, had some reservations about more online courses. “I think it’s great that we’re getting more funding but I tend to learn more in an actual classroom than an online course,” said Yap.

“It’s always better to have the actual contact with teachers and fellow students and at times it takes forever to get questions answered online especially follow-up questions.”

The governor announced his budget proposal earlier this month but it’s not expected to be finalized by the state Legislature until sometime in June.

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