City College of San Francisco officials have a lot of work ahead of them as they labor to save the school’s accreditation and avoid financial ruin.
Before the college received word from the Accreditation Commission for California Community and Junior Colleges in July that it would need to “show cause” to receive a renewal of its accreditation, the board of trustees asked for an independent review of its finances.
The results were crushing.
The independent review by California’s Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team found numerous flaws in the way City College handled its finances, including a cost structure that cannot be sustained and employee labor contracts that the district cannot afford. The state team also concluded that college decision-making was driven by power and political whim rather than logic and fairness, among dozens of other observations.
The fiscal crisis and management team provided a preview of the review, which was separate from the equally scathing recommendations of the accreditation commission, during a summary presentation last week at the CCSF board of trustees meeting. A full 65-page report is expected to be released in September.
The report is meant to assess and evaluate how the district estimates and applies its resources, and then make recommendations to help the college maintain fiscal solvency, according to Michelle Plumbtree, chief management analyst with the crisis and management team.
Numerous recommendations were made as well, including suggesting that the college renegotiate contracts with its labor partners, decrease the number of employees through attrition and continue to make budget reductions to prepare for a worst-case scenario.
Plumbtree and her colleague Mike Hall, who presented their summary to the board, agreed that City College needs to make changes.
“The reality is CCSF must make ongoing budget adjustments or face insolvency and possible state intervention,” Plumbtree said. “It really does come down to that.”
Although the report was designed to ultimately help the college, board President John Rizzo noted that some of the observations and recommendations were new, while others were already being discussed as the college works to protect its accreditation.
“We have known for a while things were not running efficiently,” Rizzo said. “The subsequent accreditation report confirmed that.”