CCSF defends abrupt announcement to temporarily close Civic Center Campus

City College of San Francisco on Monday defended its decision to temporarily close the Civic Center Campus after teachers at the site called the seemingly last-minute announcement disrespectful and disruptive.

Teachers were startled to learn Friday — three days before the spring semester was set to begin — that the 1911 building housing the campus would close indefinitely to address seismic-safety issues. The structure was taken over by CCSF in 1934 and offers various adult education programs.

CCSF spokesman Jeff Hamilton said the school waited to announce the closure until all classes had a relocation plan. At least two potential temporary sites had fallen through since the school learned in August that it would have to make major seismic repairs to the building.

“It's understandable that people would be upset,” Hamilton said of the three-day notice. “We wish we could have made the announcement sooner. We didn't want to announce the move until we had a location.”

The decision stemmed from a five-year capital plan to review and audit all of CCSF's buildings, Hamilton noted. The school hired an architecture firm that seismically evaluated the Civic Center building and released its report to CCSF on Aug. 13. Using that data, the school concluded that the site should not be occupied.

Once the school decided in the fall to close the building for seismic repairs, administrators began working with a Realtor for temporary sites. However, no suitable options were found and CCSF ultimately decided to move most of its classes to 33 Gough St. and at least one each at both the Mission and Downtown campuses.

The Gough Street location serves as district office headquarters but has classroom space in the basement.

“If we had had a solution as we were hoping to back in October, early November, we would have announced it then,” Hamilton said. “We just didn't have an alternative site.”

Noncredit English as a second language and transitional studies classes will start at 33 Gough St. the week of Feb. 2. Of the three credit classes at the Civic Center Campus, two are being moved to the Gough Street site and one is going to the Mission center. The school has been calling, emailing and mailing students to alert them of the change, and staff members were at the Civic Center Campus on Monday to address students, Hamilton said. The campus serves some 500 students a day.

CCSF faculty union President Tim Killikelly said it is particularly challenging to notify students of the changes because many of them are non-English speakers.

The last-minute nature of the announcement has also been criticized by teachers, Killikelly added.

“It's like they're just making these decisions in a vacuum,” he said of administrators.

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