The Board of Supervisors voted 7-4 Tuesday to provide City College of San Francisco emergency funding to restore hundreds of hastily canceled classes.
The budget supplemental, which would allocate $2.7 million to the college for reinstating classes, goes before the Board for a second and final vote Feb. 4.
However supervisors Norman Yee, Rafael Mandelman, Catherine Stefani and Aaron Peskin voted in opposition. At the meeting those in dissent deemed it financially irresponsible expressed concern about the college’s oversight and transparency.
Moreover, Mayor London Breed is widely expected to veto it. The funding would require an eighth supervisor’s support to become veto-proof.
“The mayor said she is going to veto it and not spend it,” said CCSF Trustee Alex Randolph at a meeting Friday of the Joint City, School District, and City College Select Committee, held to discuss how the cancellations impacted low-income and communities of color as well as high school students.
The mayor’s press office did not return requests for comment.
CCSF canceled 345 spring classes on Nov. 20, 2019 to ameliorate the college’s budget deficit amid concerns that more spending could spark a second accreditation crisis for the college. The cuts, which were made abruptly and without consulting academic chairs, prompted an outcry.
Some students saw their final classes for graduation eliminated. Dozens lost the only affordable arts education in the Bay Area. Teachers saw their classes and health benefits disappear overnight. And more than 2,000 older adults lost classes known to provide community and stimulation and prevent isolation and deterioration.
“I’ve been taking classes at Evans Center for two years now,” said CCSF student Brenna Stroud, reading a letter by former Evans Campus Associated Students Vice President Alan Garcia, who had five out of six certificates cut from the Automotive Tech program. “My education abruptly stopped because the only two courses I need to graduate have been cut.”
College administrators have previously said the cancellations intended to prioritize the graduation of students of color. But school advocates and city officials took issue with that claim Friday.
“You cannot say that you’re focused on equity and cut hundreds of classes, without having conversations with faculty, without having conversations with students, without having conversations with other leadership in San Francisco,” Supervisor Shamann Walton said at a press conference before the hearing.
CCSF Acting Vice Chancellor of Facilities Torrance Bynum presented the administration’s case to the Joint Education committee, but provided only three bullet points of data. The lack of preparedness for the discussion bewildered the committee.
“Numbers is something I would like to see. I would like to see numbers by group; I would like to see numbers over time; I would like to see numbers by location,” School Board member Alison Collins said. “I’m hearing from Supervisor Walton the whole point of this was to understand how decisions were made.”
If the budget supplemental does pass, it would go before the college’s Board of Trustees at its Feb. 27 meeting. Board President Shanell Williams has stated her support for potential funding. Board member Ivy Lee said she would support using the supplemental funding toward the district reserves, which have fallen below 5 percent. It is unclear where other trustees stand.
Meanwhile, Chancellor Mark Rocha has spoken in opposition to city funding in a letter to the Board of Supervisors and other city partners, saying the cuts were part of a long term plan to adjust classes to changes in state funding models.
Administrators declined to comment on what the school’s plan is if the funding is approved. A query to the administration about which classes could return or what the process would be to get teachers back returned one reply.
“The college continues to be in favor of long-term sustainable funding measures, such as the Community Higher Education Fund (CHEF), rather than one-time funding measures that do not help the college overcome its structural budget issues,” college spokesperson Rachel Howard said.
The Board of Trustees is holding a study session at CCSF’s Chinatown Center in Room 201 on Saturday at 9 a.m.
Editor’s note:The story has been updated to clarify that Ivy Lee stated support for using the supplemental toward the district’s reserve and not for restoring class cuts. In addition, the story initially attributed statements to Brenna Stroud that were in fact from a letter by another student. That attribution has been corrected.