Last minute cuts by the state seem to have affected Pasadena City College less than most colleges across the state, according to reports released by PCC officials. Since colleges operate on fiscal years that begin in July and end in June, the cuts have been hard to absorb by state colleges.
â€œThis $149 million reduction is unexpected and even larger than the mid-year trigger cut that the community college system has already endured,â€ said Dr. Jack Scott, California Community College Chancellor and himself a former President of PCC. â€œThis will result in colleges reducing course sections, additional borrowing and staff reductions. The new 2.75 percent budget decrease is effectively doubled because colleges only have a half year to try to find savings.â€
The 2011-12 budget resulted in $313 million cuts to the stateâ€™s community colleges, and $102 million in â€œtriggered cutsâ€ in January 2012. Last week, the colleges learned they will face an additional $149 million during the current fiscal year.
â€œIt literally happened in the middle of the night,â€ said PCC President Mark Rocha. â€œWe knew we were going to get some kind of a cut, but these cuts were from the state, not from our board. Itâ€™s hard to take a 2.8 million dollar cut in the middle of the year and weâ€™ve already planned for the year.â€
For Pasadena City College, the new cuts amounted to an additional $2.85 million in budget shortfall. As a result, the institution was forced to reduce some of its offerings, among other cost-saving measures. Those measures were needed in order to weather the new cut while providing as much access as possible to PCC students.
â€œItâ€™s heartbreaking, the effect on some of our students,â€ said Rocha. â€œI don’t make light of this, but we’ll make it. We’ve held instruction almost harmless from the cuts.”
The net reduction at PCC amounted to 45 primarily low-enrolled sections. To put that number in perspective, PCC is offering 2,333 sections for the spring semester, which continues to be significantly above the state-ordered enrollment-funding limit for class offerings.
According to college officials, 428 students have been affected by the reduction of sections and PCCâ€™s Office of Student and Learning Services is contacting them to give information and aid in securing other classes. To put everything in context, that amount is out of the 27,000 students attending PCC.
Consideration will be given to students near completion of a certificate, degree, or transfer requirements or have been affected in terms of financial aid qualification. A special “Spring Forward to Completion” project will be available first to those students who would have completed their degree or certificate by spring or summer, according to Rocha.
What happens if the Governorâ€™s budget doesnâ€™t pass?
â€œFirst, the collegeâ€™s Budget Resource and Allocation Committee, comprised of faculty, staff and students, will meet on Friday, February 24, to begin preparing recommendations for the FY2012-2013 budget,â€ said Rocha. â€œThey will prepare for next yearâ€™s cuts and address the crisis realistically. On one hand, there is no scenario in which the class schedule will not be further reduced next year, beginning with summer session.
â€œOn the other hand, one encouraging sign is that many faculty and staff have contributed constructive ideas and proposals on how to run the college as cost-effectively as possible and still maintain our commitment to student graduation. Moreover, the district will continue to meet with its labor union partners to discuss ideas and innovations for improving student success while reducing costs,â€ Rocha concluded.