Budget cuts to close a $13 million deficit at City College of San Francisco could affect programs including culinary arts, engineering and journalism. The college has already cut hundreds of classes this year. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

CCSF faces further class cuts to stem $13 million deficit

College weighing elimination of some programs including culinary arts, journalism

Despite cutting 12 percent of its class offerings and parting with at least 100 instructors and counselors over the past year to balance a $32 million budget deficit, City College of San Francisco may need to cut hundreds more classes before the spring term starts, administrators said Thursday.

The district faces another $13 million projected deficit for the 2019-2020 academic year due primarily to spending on salaries and benefits, officials said at a Board of Trustees meeting Thursday. The cuts threaten non general education courses, under-enrolled classes and programs including journalism and culinary arts.

Students rallied alongside newly elected District 5 supervisor Dean Preston on Wednesday against ongoing reductions. But administrators said more cuts are likely unavoidable if the college remains on its current spending trajectory.

“None of this was easy and it’s going to get more difficult,” said Dianna Gonzalez, senior vice chancellor of human resources, who said decisions on cuts must be made quickly because the class schedule for the spring semester is already available online, and enrollment begins on November 20.

“I know all of this is difficult and disruptive,” Gonzalez said. “So before our students start registering for these classes and then we cancel them, we are recommending that we make those adjustments now.”

The college has already made a 12 percent reduction to its class schedule for the full 2019-2020 academic year, which translates to 863 classes — 554 in credit, and 309 in non-credit classes, according to City College spokesperson Evette Davis. The College is offering a total of 6,136 classes this year.

The projected $13 million deficit is due to “primarily faculty compensation,” said Davis, adding that $9.5 million of the deficit comes from salaries and $3.6 million from benefits.

Enrollment, which historically has helped determine state funding, is also down this year, dipping from 17,522 full-time equivalent students (FTES) in 2018-2019 to a projected 16,745 this academic year.

FTES is the “currency that the college uses in exchange for its state funding” apportionment, explained Davis, adding that 1 FTES equals 525 hours of student attendance.

Tom Boegel, senior vice chancellor of academic and institutional affairs, said Thursday that the recent class cuts may have impacted enrollment, but enrollment is also down at other community colleges in the region.

“From 2017-2018 to 2018-2019, the San Mateo Community College District experienced a 3 percent enrollment decline,” said Boegel. “The unemployment rate in San Francisco is hovering…around 2 percent. Median rent is hovering around $3,700 a month for a one bedroom apartment. There are larger economic factors at play that are impacting our enrollment.”

The college is also spending some $12.5 million on an equivalent of 100 out of 475 full-time instructional faculty who are not currently teaching classes because they serve as union representatives and department heads, among other roles, Boegel said.

Gonzalez and Boegel presented a number of possible solutions to the trustees to be implemented by the spring semester, including cuts to historically under enrolled classes that remain on the class schedule and classes like music, art and biology that are not part of the college’s general education program.

Boegel said that the college could save up to $825,000 by eliminating a general education classes with average enrollment between 20-28 students, which he said is “not terribly high.”

Other options include reducing offerings during the college’s summer semester.

Administrators also suggested reviewing and potentially eliminating high cost programs like culinary arts, and those with low enrollment such as engineering and journalism.

Juan Gonzales, who is the chair of the college’s Journalism Department, told the San Francisco Examiner on Friday that the administrators would be doing a great disservice to students and the public by reducing programs that place San Franciscans on career pathways.

“There is still a need for people who want to come in on entry level and begin their training and transfer into four year programs at San Francisco State University or San Jose State University,” said Juan Gonzales. “We still provide that kind of service, maybe not in the great numbers that other programs do, but that need is still there for students who want to pursue a career in journalism.”

Gonzales added that savings should be made in other areas, and pointed to recent raises given to administrators.

“I know they are really antsy about wanting to balance the budget and eliminate the possibility of a $13 million deficit at the end of spring semester. They [could] look at high salaries, or the too many contract services that are in place. They can rent more of their space out to outside agencies,” he said, challenging the college’s leadership to “be creative rather than taking the easy way out and cutting classes and programs.”

The trustees, too, shared concerns about cutting additional classes.

Trustee Brigitte Davila said that cutting more classes is “disconcerting.”

“It seems like that as a college of higher education we would need something like [music] or [humanities],” she said.

Trustee Ivy Lee directed the college’s administration to prepare an assessment of the college’s current budget controls.

“It’s a little shocking…to see and to be again in a further deficit,” said Trustee Shanell Williams. “I am not in favor of cutting any more courses.”

Chancellor Mark Rocha suggested that if the 100 faculty members who are currently not teaching classes each took on five classes, most of the deficit could be addressed without cutting classes.

“I know that it’s not culturally possible to put 100 faculty back as teachers, which is what they were hired to do originally. But if theoretically we took 100 faculty, gave them five classes each, that’s 500 classes,” said Rocha. “Wouldn’t the classes be retained but we would save money because the full time faculty would be taking classes away from the part time faculty and that expense would go away without having to cut those classes.”

The college is projected to spend more than $18 million on part-time faculty in the 2019-2020 school year.

lwaxmann@sfexaminer.com

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