Peninsula community colleges prepare for class, faculty cuts and fee increases 

Community college students could face a second increase in fees over the next six months as well as fewer available classes, according to system officials.

Students enrolled in community colleges pay $26 per unit, but that fee is rising to $36 per unit in the fall semester. By spring, fees could go to $46 per unit if expected revenues in the state budget do not materialize.

Kathy Blackwood, CFO of the San Mateo County Community College District, said the next two years will be difficult for the community college to continue to offer courses.

“Classes will be cut and adjunct faculty will not be asked back,” she said. “The outlook in the years 2012-13 and beyond is not good.”

San Mateo’s district, which oversees College of San Mateo, Cañada College and Skyline College, is cutting 15 percent of its $110 million budget. Blackwood said that equates to roughly $10 million during the 2011-12 school year and another $5 million for the 2012-13 school year. She said the college district won’t have to cut nearly as much as some other community colleges because of the approval of Measure G in June 2010, which gave the district a parcel tax to help fund classes.

California, though, recently approved a budget that bridged the $26.6 billion deficit with a combination of cuts and revenues. It was signed by the governor July 1.

Blackwood and City College of San Francisco board of trustees President John Rizzo both said the state budget hangs on money the state doesn’t have. Rizzo said he’s not optimistic that money will materialize. “It institutes potential midyear revenue increases,” Rizzo said. “It could happen, but I think the legislature and the governor are being overly optimistic.”

CCSF approved a budget that called for 400 classes to be cut next fiscal year to help bridge a $20.5 million deficit. Rizzo said summer classes will not be cut and the community college will focus on offering more core math, English and science classes.

“We don’t want to put a burden on students,” he said. “We had a terrible problem last year where thousands of students couldn’t get classes. We’re urging the administration not to cut those basic core courses.”

Community college cuts are still below the drastic losses California State University and University of California campuses are facing. Both of those systems took a $650 million total hit.

San Francisco State University President Robert A. Corrigan said he fears the impact these cuts will have on tuition, fees, access and enrollment.

“A $500 million cut to CSU and the possibility of an additional $150 million more is shocking,” he said in a statement.

akoskey@sfexaminer.com

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