California community college students could have more summer and winter course options, albeit at more than triple the current cost, under a bill being discussed by the state Legislature.
Assembly Bill 955, which the state Senate has taken up, aims to address the budget cuts-induced course shortfall statewide. It would allow schools such as City College of San Francisco to offer extension courses during the summer and winter to students who could not get classes they need to finish their degrees or complete transfers to four-year universities.
Rather than force those students to wait another semester, said Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara, the legislation would help them graduate sooner and open up space for more students.
“It enables students to avoid becoming fifth-year seniors, which is a huge cost issue,” Williams said. “I think it’s a lesser evil for people, instead of having to go to school for an additional semester.”
However, the courses must be self-sustaining. According to the proposed legislation, the course costs would need to be paid entirely by students. Community colleges can charge fees based on the actual cost to hold the course, with a cap not to exceed the price of out-of-state tuition rates, which can be up to $200 a unit.
According to the budget analysis of AB 955, community colleges have had to cut $809 million from their budgets over the past three years. That has led to fewer teachers and fewer classes to offer the millions of students in California’s community college system. Since 2008, course offerings have gone from 420,000 to 334,000 in 2012.
If approved, colleges would have the option of offering the extension courses; they would not be mandatory. Colleges also would only qualify if they met enrollment goals set by the state for the past two years.
Some CCSF elected officials oppose the bill, saying it would be too much of a burden on students.
Trustee Chris Jackson said he plans to introduce a resolution at Thursday’s board meeting to oppose the legislation, stating that CCSF “does not believe the bill adequately addresses the need for affordable classes at the community college level.”