Though City College of San Francisco appears to have turned a corner after years of turmoil that included nearly losing its accreditation, the school is far from out of the woods.
But that’s not stopping four candidates from vying for one seat on the school’s Board of Trustees in the Nov. 3 election.
The board, which regained its power from a special trustee this year, faces a bevy of challenges in the coming years as the school continues to fight for its accreditation. CCSF has until January 2017 to meet all accrediting requirements, and meanwhile is grappling with losing nearly a third of its students in the past several years.
Job losses among faculty are also imminent as the administration, with the board’s backing, plans to start gradually reducing its schedule with a goal of cutting it by 26 percent, said CCSF Board President Rafael Mandelman, who did not endorse a candidate.
“The next year for us, at least the next six months, are going to be largely defined by trying to figure out, ‘Is there any hope of growing?’” Mandelman said. “Can we get back some of what we lost? Where are we going to cut? What are the changes to our schedule that we’re going to have to make?”
Candidates Wendy Aragon, Tom Temprano, Jason Zeng and Alex Randolph, the incumbent who was appointed to the board by Mayor Ed Lee in April to fill the seat of 18-year trustee Natalie Berg, all have expressed an intent to make tough choices that will keep the school alive.
Aragon, Temprano and Randolph all share a community college background and believe tackling the school’s accreditation crisis remains at the forefront of the board’s challenges, as well as boosting enrollment. Zeng, a data analyst, said he would also focus on increasing technology in the classrooms.
Randolph, who most recently worked for the U.S. General Services Administration, said his priority on top of accreditation and enrollment is to balance the school’s budget.
“In the next six years we could be looking at another $60 million of [the] budget that is going to disappear,” Randolph said.
Temprano, a small business owner with experience in marketing and communications who served as president of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club for two years, said his plans to boost enrollment include hiring more enrollment staff and encouraging graduating seniors from the San Francisco Unified School District to enroll in CCSF. He noted that nearly 1,000 students who graduate from the SFUSD each year don’t go to college.
“We need 7,000 full time students in the next year and a half to get back to where we were,” Temprano said.
Aragon, who is endorsed by the CCSF faculty union AFT 2121 and has been active in the Save City College movement for years, said she would bring to the board the perspective of a student.
“There is a sorely lacking voice on the board for someone who understands the needs of students and can speak to the needs of students,” Aragon said.
Zeng, who works as a data analyst, noted that the major technology companies in the Bay Area are looking to hire software engineers and often select candidates from elsewhere in the world – but with a technology-focused education, future tech workers could come more from The City.
“The point of community college is to have a start [to] careers,” Zeng said. “In San Francisco, that should have to do with technology.”