Grossmont may eliminate another 212 class sections from Spring semester schedule

EL CAJON (Press Release)– The Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District approved a $179 million budget for 2011-2012 that anticipates a $6.3 million cut in state funding this year.

The spending plan passed by the governing board Tuesday night, Sept. 13,  projects that 600 class sections will have been eliminated this year by the district’s two colleges, 398 by Grossmont College in El Cajon and 202 by Cuyamaca College in Rancho San Diego.

Over summer and the current fall semester, Grossmont cut a total of 186 class sections, leaving another 212 class sections that are expected to be eliminated in spring, unless there is an economic turnaround.

The class section cuts – part of a state-mandated “workload reduction” — mean that about 2,300 students will be turned away this year at the two colleges. The district has already cut 1,000 class sections over the past two years because of reductions in state funding.

“I’m deeply, deeply troubled that we have been forced to turn away so many students in need of our services,” said Cindy L. Miles, chancellor of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District. “Now is the time that the state should be investing in higher education and workforce training. To return this state to its past luster, to improve a flagging economy, it is absolutely critical for community colleges to once again fulfill their mission of providing open access to affordable, quality education.”

California’s already financially hard-hit community colleges face an additional $30 million cut in December if state revenues are more than $1 billion below estimates, and up to $102  million in budget cuts if revenues are more than $2 billion below estimates.

Grossmont-Cuyamaca could lose up to $6.3 million in state funding if California doesn’t get enough revenue. The district board decided to act prudently, and the approved budget reflects the worst-case revenue projections.

Fees for California community college students increased from $26 per unit to $36 this year, meaning full-time students now pay $1,080 in fees annually. Students faced the possibility of an additional increase to $46 per unit for the spring 2012 semester if state coffers fell short of projected revenues, but that has been delayed until next summer.

Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges currently enroll about 26,000 students, a number that has been slowly declining in the past three years that the campuses have been forced to slash offerings and staff. Even with declining enrollment, students have been severely affected by the reduction in class offerings. By the first day of fall classes in August, nearly all available courses were full and the waitlist for class seats exceeded 23,000.

While lamenting the budget crisis as the worst the college district has ever experienced, Governing Board President Bill Garrett praised college and district staff and faculty for accomplishing the near-impossible task of balancing the budget with tough measures such as not filling job vacancies and cutting operational expenses to the core.

“During this exceedingly difficult budget season, our top priority has been to put students first in providing access and helping them to achieve success,” Garrett said. “With the severe cuts we have been forced to make, this is becoming increasingly challenging, but our motto of ‘students first’ remains paramount.”

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Preceding based on materials provided by Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District

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