CCSF sees brighter future with help from tax revenue

Beth Laberge/Special to the S.F. ExaminerThreatened: City College of San Francisco

City College of San Francisco officials can breathe a sigh of relief following Tuesday’s presidential elections, as two measures to support education were approved by voters, but administrators admit they are not out of the woods just yet.

Despite the boosts in funding, CCSF will still need to look closely at its finances in order to become fiscally stable.

“Everyone is breathing a sigh of relief,” said John Rizzo, president of the board of trustees, “because we would have had to have layoffs and closures very soon. Rather than jumping into that mode and downsizing rapidly, now we can do our cost containment more carefully.”

CCSF will still need to cut some classes and even begin making concessions with its labor unions for additional savings, Rizzo said.

Statewide, financial support came in the form of Proposition 30, which was approved with 53.9 percent of the vote. The measure raises taxes on people who make more than $250,000 a year and increases the state sales tax by a quarter percent. By passing the measure, voters prevented additional cuts to higher education — CCSF stood to trim $11 million.

Locally, Proposition A, a parcel tax to give revenue specifically to CCSF, will pump $16 million a year into the school for the next eight years. Prop. A passed with 72 percent of the vote.

Those initiatives will be a big help as CCSF works to fix financial problems that have resulted from years of borrowing from its own reserves to fund programs, provide full pay and benefits for faculty and staff, and cover the growing costs of retiree benefits, according to a report on the school that was released in September.

The college is making changes as a result. Already, the board of trustees has approved a restructuring of department chairs that is expected to save $2 million a year and has increased some of its depleted reserves.

“There have been reasonable concerns because there certainly have been problems,” Rizzo said. “But we now have a plan and are enacting parts of the plan.”

Additionally, college officials are making structural and fiscal changes to address problems noted in a different report that threatens the CCSF’s accreditation. The school has until March 15 to provide a report to the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges showing that it has made changes.

For now, CCSF will see more funding to help solve its problems and officials say they will spend the money wisely.

“We’re happy and grateful voters in San Francisco have stepped up to the plate,” said Larry Kamer, a CCSF spokesman. “Now we’ll do all we can to not let them down.”

akoskey@sfexaminer.com

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