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CCSF trustees secure free tuition for next fall

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(Ekevara Kitpowsong/ 2016 Special to S.F. Examiner)
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Securing free tuition for students at City College of San Francisco, the Board of Trustees voted Thursday in favor of an agreement with city officials that will cover tuition costs for two years.

Several trustees had concerns with the Memorandum of Understanding but decided it was more important to roll out free tuition in time for next school year than to send the agreement back to the drawing board.

Registration for continuing students began last week without an agreement in place as school administrators continued to iron out the finer details with Mayor Ed Lee and Supervisor Jane Kim after reaching a deal on funding in February.

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“We’re thrilled that this MOU is complete and [are] looking forward to continuing to work with The City and county to implement it,” said Board of Trustees President Thea Selby. “In two years’ time, we can make some improvements.”

Selby was the only member to abstain from the 6-0 vote Thursday after raising a red flag about the makeup of the oversight committee focused on the effort.

“I was concerned that we were rushing into something,” Selby said. “There was this overwhelming sense that we had to get it done tonight, or else.”

The oversight committee does not include classified staff under the MOU, so the board passed an amendment to board policy that will require it to appoint a classified staff member.

Since voters approved a luxury real estate transfer tax meant for free tuition in November, the effort has hit several roadblocks and become a stripped-down version of the program that Kim first proposed.

It turned out that free tuition will apply to most but not all San Francisco residents, and that low-income students will receive less money for school expenses than expected.

The latest shortcoming realized Thursday is that there is no funding for students to attend summer classes for free in the next two years.

“That is certainly something that I am not happy about,” said Trustee Tom Temprano. “But this really is a pilot at this point. We have two years to see what works and what doesn’t.”

Trustee Rafael Mandelman also said the approval “marked a big step forward for City College, for our students and for the movement for affordable higher ed.”

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated from its original version.

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