City College of San Francisco administrators say they need to permanently cancel as much as a third of the school’s class offerings over the next several years to fix what they describe as 20-year structural budget problem.
The college passed a $185 million operating budget in August which includes an $11 million deficit, down from a $25 million deficit the year before. But in order to reach a balanced budget, City College Chancellor Mark Rocha told the Board of Trustees earlier this month that the college must stop offering approximately 400 historically under-enrolled credit classes. The college currently offers “dozens” of majors that graduate fewer than 10 students a year, he said.
“Community college over the years have what we call classic mission creep,” Rocha said at a Board of Trustees study session on Dec. 4. “These courses over a period of time have to go, or else the college cost structure will just be unsustainable.”
Rocha said the college needs to focus on expanding courses required for students to transfer to four-year universities, which generate the majority of the college’s revenue. A new state law also requires the college to receive more of its funding based on graduation rates. The administration characterized the new focus as “student-centered.”
Some City College advocates are pushing back against the idea of transitioning City College into what they described as more of a “junior college” than a “community college.”
“I think the question at the center of this structural problem is what a community college today in San Francisco should look like,” said Trustee Alex Randolph. “I don’t want [us] to forget that the third of the three core tenets of a community college in the state of California is lifelong learning.”
“I know it’s a very hard-core question that we as a board, and us as a college community, have to grapple with in order to get through the next couple years,” he said.
Jenny Worley, president of American Federation of Teachers local 2121, spoke out against the idea at a subsequent Board of Trustees meeting on Dec. 13.
“Our job is to graduate students?” she asked, rhetorically. “That may be all the state chancellor, or the governor, or Elon Musk, or Mark Zuckerberg, or whomever wants us to do. But you trustees…have been entrusted by the people of this city with rebuilding a thriving community college with a rich, diverse curriculum which serves our whole community.”