Amid a heated debate with the public Thursday night, the City College of San Francisco board of trustees approved a 250-page report explaining how the school has adjusted operations to meet accreditation standards and remain open.
The two-hour discussion was nearly disrupted by student protests, but ultimately the plan was adopted. But trustee Steve Ngo did offer a dire warning.
“If the commission sees we’re fighting with each other and playing old turf battles, we’re in trouble,” Ngo said. “This document reflects changes that have been made and done in a short period of time.”
The report, which is due March 15, will outline all the changes CCSF has made since it received the show-cause sanction in July. If any of the 14 recommendations are not fully completed, the school also has a plan of how and when the remainder will be fulfilled.
CCSF was issued the harshest sanction by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges seven months ago. The school must show why it should remain accredited and open. Without accreditation, CCSF could lose federal funding, grants and access to financial aid for students. It would essentially be forced to close.
Trustees also approved a plan Thursday to close the school if accreditation is not granted. That plan ensures students will have access to records and be able to transfer to other schools complete their degrees.
Since receiving the sanction, CCSF officials have made many changes, including closing campuses, changing the administrative structure, laying off dozens of employees and developing a way to track student outcomes and how and when to update technology and equipment.
CCSF also faces a financial crisis, which was detailed in a separate report issued in September.
Though the college moved quickly to make changes and remain open, not everyone has been pleased with the progress. Nearly 100 protesters lined the streets outside the Ocean Avenue Campus before the meeting to air their grievances and gain support to save the school.
Many wanted the process stopped to allow for more time and input from students and staff.
“The accreditation process is a sham,” said student Nancy Kato. “We’re asking the board to stand against this. We need to rehire laid off workers and bring back badly needed student services.”
Also on Thursday, trustees approved issuing layoff notices to 18 administrators whose jobs are affected by restructuring, which cut the number of deans to seven. The affected administrators can apply to the new positions, if they meet requirements.
A bill that would give financial assistance to colleges going through accreditation sanctions was introduced last week in the state Assembly.
Assembly Bill 1199 would create a “stabilization formula” for enrollment-related funding losses for any community college hit by a decline after receiving sanctions, according to bill author Assemblyman Paul Fong, D-Cupertino.
Fong’s office said City College of San Francisco, whose accreditation is in limbo after receiving sanctions last year, was certainly a focus of the bill.
Because of the sanctions and overhaul of the institution, CCSF officials fear students are scared to enroll. As a result, the college may not meet its enrollment goal of 34,000 full-time students and would thus lose funding.
The legislation would ensure that a college that has lost students due to any show-cause or probation sanctions would be funded at a similar rate of enrollment for the year in which the actions took place.
According to Fong’s office, “Colleges receiving a severe accreditation sanction often suffer immediate reduction of their enrollment. This leads to a potential funding loss, putting pressure on the college’s ability to make adjustments and recover its full accreditation.”
Fong announced his legislation at a news conference Thursday in San Francisco.