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February 19, 2009

State budget preserves access to community colleges

A press release (attached) was sent out this morning by Community College League of California, thanking the legislature and governor for recognizing the important contributions Community Colleges make in helping California recover from tough economic times. Community College enrollment levels are up across the state, as unemployed workers return to college for education an retraining, and university-bound students save money by completing their lower-division coursework at community colleges. At Gavilan College, Spring enrollment is up 14%, vs. 9.5% statewide.

Gavilan College President Steve Kinsella announced the good news to all staff, and itemized the budget's impact on community colleges:

The approved state budget:
- Eliminates the 0.68 COLA for the current year, (which Gavilan College had not included in the 2008-09 budget.)
- Reduces state funding for mandates
- Defers $340 million in state payments to districts from the 2008-09 to the 2009-10 fiscal year
- 2009-10: Funds 3% enrollment growth
- 2009-10: Maintains funding for the Competitive Cal Grants program, which provides 22,500 grants annually to needy non-traditional students
- Future: Places a measure on the next statewide ballot (now scheduled to be May 19) to repay K-12 and community colleges $9.3 billion over seven years beginning in 2011-12.

Although the budget includes cuts for Community Colleges, Gavilan College is well-positioned to adjust for these cuts and continue to serve students. Through the work of an Expenditure Reduction Task Force, over $860,000 in budget reductions have been identified and accepted for the current year, and additional potential reductions have been identified for 2009-10.

Kinsella indicated that the reductions already identified may be sufficient to meet the challenges of the state budget. "Based on this information, the Expenditure Reduction Task Force will be asked to curtail its work. There were reductions incorporated into the budget in January and there are other reductions available to us that we still should take advantage of."


February 19, 2009

Scott Lay, President/CEO
(916) 213-2232

SACRAMENTO, CA – With the approval of an 18-month budget plan this morning by the State Legislature, community college leaders are returning their focus to the mission of providing Californians the education and training they need.

“Governor Schwarzenegger and the legislative leaders that crafted this plan must be saluted,” said Scott Lay, President and CEO of the Community College League of California. “In making very difficult budgetary decisions, they prioritized community college access to ensure that the rungs of the ladder of economic opportunity would be maintained during these difficult budget times for the state and families alike.”

The budget provides funding for 36,000 more full-time students next year, which will enable the colleges to serve students being turned away by the state’s four-year university systems and returning to school after losing their jobs. Community colleges are currently serving more than 20,000 unfunded full-time students, a trend expected to continue next year with record enrollment demand.

“As we move forward, we must not ignore the sacrifices in quality that are happening at our colleges,” said Theresa Tena, Director of Fiscal Policy of the League. “Over the current and next fiscal years, colleges will lose 11% in purchasing power. This means larger class sizes, longer waits to see counselors and the postponement of important maintenance. As the state’s budget situation improves, we will prioritize the restoration of quality that Californians expect from their community colleges.”

The resolution of the budget also is expected to let community colleges get back to work shortly on $1.5 billion in capital construction projects that have been delayed. As they construct 193 projects on 102 campuses, community colleges are putting voter-approved bond dollars to work, employing local construction workers and transforming the campuses to meet 21st century workforce needs.

The Community College League of California is a nonprofit public benefit corporation whose voluntary membership consists of the 72 local community college districts in California. The League promotes student access and success by strengthening colleges through leadership development, advocacy, policy development and district services.

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Community college leaders salute Governor Schwarzenegger and Legislature

Last modified: August 17, 2011
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