After years of drastic cuts to education, Gov. Jerry Brownâ€™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.
Â California Community Colleges Chancellor Brice Harris was ecstatic about the news and said in a statement: â€œThis budget represents a good start toward financial recovery for our [college] system. The governor and voters deserve credit for beginning this overdue reinvestment.â€
Â The governorâ€™s budget directs the California Community Colleges Board of Governors to determine the best way to allocate the funds to districts.
Â Â Some of the aspects of the proposed budget are the shifting of responsibilities of adult education â€“ now performed at K-12 â€“ schools to community colleges. It also directs that $17 million be used to develop a â€œvirtual campusâ€ of 250 new online courses.
Â The additional funds will be helpful, says PCC Interim Director of Distance Education Leslie Tirapelle.â€œWe never had a large online program [here at PCC]. Itâ€™s something that weâ€™re just starting to grow,â€ said Tirapelle. â€œOnline courses have always grown organically here and not strategically, but now weâ€™re starting to think strategically about the online program and the new funds will help.â€
Â Tirapelle expressed some concerns about the details in the budget especially how the funds will be distributed. â€œWeâ€™re very excited about the proposalâ€¦but are there strings attached?â€ she asked.
Â Chancellor Harris says that the California community college system has already laid the groundwork for the governorâ€™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.
Â Selina Yap, biology, had some reservations about more online courses. â€œI think itâ€™s great that weâ€™re getting more funding but I tend to learn more in an actual classroom than an online course,â€ said Yap.
â€œItâ€™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.â€
The governor announced his budget proposal earlier this month but itâ€™s not expected to be finalized by the state Legislature until sometime in June.