With only two months left until City College of San Francisco must present a report integral to its survival, officials are worried the college will miss the deadline.
College officials are hoping that an accreditation body will grant them extra time to comply with 14 recommendations necessary to keep their accreditation.
City College was sanctioned in July by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges. The commission found numerous violations, and college officials must make drastic changes or lose accreditation.
Bob Agrella, the special trustee appointed in October to assist the college, told the governing board of the state’s community colleges in Sacramento that while the college is making significant progress, some recommendations won’t be completed by the March 15 deadline.
“We’re hoping we can demonstrate that we’ve made significant progress,” Agrella said in an interview. “We won’t have the organizational structure completed, and there are some other issues that need to be looked at with respect to where are we in terms of financials.”
Agrella called resistance to the changes from teachers and staff part of the problem.
“Change is difficult for any institution, and we’re talking some major changes across an institution,” Agrella said. “It would be nice to take a year to do some of these changes, but we don’t have the luxury of time.”
Teachers union President Alisa Messer said bargaining has become difficult since the administration already instituted a nearly 9 percent pay cut this month.
“We had confidence it was possible until recently,” Messer said. “Now unfortunately, with the cuts and layoffs, we’re seeing again and again the current leadership is failing to pull us together to work in innovative ways. It’s getting harder and harder to believe they will work together to save the college.”
If the college loses accreditation, it will lose federal funding and student aid and could have to close.
Many teachers and faculty plan to protest interim Chancellor Thelma Scott-Skillman’s welcome address on Friday. The demonstration’s organizer, the Save CCSF Coalition, says administrators are using the accreditation report to make detrimental changes.
“We’re upset with people who’ve come from elsewhere who don’t understand the college and want to make changes,” said Leslie Simon, a coalition member and women’s studies department faculty.
If an extension were granted, it is unclear how much more time City College could receive. Its status could also improve from “show cause” to “probation,” a step up on the sanction list, but not out of the woods.
College officials have made numerous changes since receiving the report, including closing three campuses, adopting a new mission statement and adopting a new administrative structure. The college will lay off dozens of part-time employees, clerical staff and counselors this month to save $6 million a year. The new administrative structure is estimated to save another $2 million.
Board of trustees President John Rizzo said Agrella’s comments are hard to hear, but not surprising.
“The things Bob is saying are true,” Rizzo said. “But I think he and I both agree we will come out of this. We’ve made significant headway and we’re going to continue on that path.”