By: Jonathan Gonzalez and Nela Lichtsheidl, Staff Writers
Governor Brown Proposes more than $1 billion in higher education cuts
College of the Canyons could lose $3.7 million for the 2011-12 school year, and more than 250 class sections, as part of a $400 million cut to the Calfornia Community Colleges system, if Governor Brown’s proposed budget passes this June.
A $10-per-unit fee increase is also being projected, pushing the current cost to $36-per-unit.
“[Governor Brown] did in fact come out with a proposal to cut $400 million from the community colleges,” said Eric Harnish, Director of External Relations at COC. “We took a look at that, and analyzed it, and we believe our share of that will be around $3.7 million.”
COC sees that as the best-case scenario.
A worst-case scenario will happen if voters in June agree to suspend Proposition 98 (1988), which guarantees minimum funding for K-14 education, and fail to pass a tax-increase measure. This could potentially set the CCC back more than $800 million.
“If those tax extensions are not passed,” Harnish added, “then we’re looking at double the cuts.”
Such a situation could bring a $10 million reduction for COC.
But Harnish also said that the college does have some money put away for such a situation. Community colleges throughout the state have faced threats of mid-year cutbacks during the last few years. The reserve, which Harnish did not specify how large it is, would be used for the 2011-2012 year as necessary.
“We do have some money sitting there, and we will be able to roll that over for 2011-12, to help it address those shortfalls,” Harnish said.
COC says that section-reductions are strategic and based on the necessity of certain classes over others. Those classes most needed to graduate by the majority of students are likely not to be cut.
Furlough days, which have appeared scattered throughout different state-wide departments in the last few years, is not in the foreseeable future at COC, according to Harnish.
Students Protest Cuts On Campus
California’s economic chaos has been a rough challenge for students throughout the state, as many believe budget cuts continue to undermine education. However, some at College of the Canyons are not willing to sit and wait for the financial storm to pass. They are taking control of what’s going on in Sacramento—one student at a time.
“We’re focusing on educating students about the budget cuts and [providing students] with the chance to sign a petition and help to make a change in our education,” said Cultural Student Involvement Coordinator, Revena Gill.
The group’s goal is to obtain ten thousand student signatures, including faculty, in hopes of sending the signed letter to the state capitol in Sacramento and calling attention to what they believe is a drastic downfall in education.
“It’s important to know what’s going on with the budget cuts because it affects us the most, and if we bring more attention to the situation, hopefully in the future there won’t be any more cuts,” Gill said.
In order to increase student signatures and create more awareness for the conflict, Gill and her teammates for “Keeping Education Alive” are providing students with popcorn, wristbands that enable students to receive free pizza, and a raffle ticket to offer a lucky winner scholarship money for books. Some students believe this is a marvelous opportunity.
“I signed the petition because I really want to get free money for books,” said COC student, Mohamed Hariri. Others, however, are really interested in the benefit of the petition.
“I believe education is very important, and it’s better to have an education than not,” said COC student, Elizabeth Deauzzi.
Like many people, Deauzzi believes education is an important factor in getting a job. And of course, being a full-time student as well as a mom, gives Deauzzi many reasons to sign the petition.
“I’m hoping this will at least lower the budget cuts. It’s hard having to pay for school and taking care of a baby at the same time,” Deauzzi said.
Other students were very adamant about wanting their voices hear state-wide.
“School is extremely important for us, and for our future, for our future to thrive, so this needs to happen,” said Charles Went, a student at COC.
One Instructor Already Feeling Effects of Cuts
COC’s Program Coordinator of Animation Jeff Baker has been directly impacted by minor budget cuts over the last few years.
“When I started here three-and-a-half years ago, I was offering 12 to 15 sections a semester, and now I’m down to seven or eight,” Baker said. “As students need to take classes, the classes aren’t as available. Students . . . will be on waitlists instead of class sections.”
Classes, Baker added, are filling up quickly and urges students not to waste time when picking them. He said that flexibility in scheduling is important for students also.
Baker also stated that the reduction in number of course sections available have been the most severe part of the cutbacks. To deal with these cuts, he has had reorganize classes and Animation has since combined with other small departments to create the Media, Entertainment, and Arts department, of which Cougar News is a part. However, Baker said he realizes that more cuts in the near future is a real threat, but that keeping Animation, along with MEA, alive is a must.
“I can’t see how keeping a viable program with fewer sections would be something we could do,” Baker added, “but I’m sure if the budget cuts are worse that they will ask us to do that again, to cut our number of sections,” Baker said.
“Again, it’s being flexible and making sure you get right in there when you register, at your registration time, to get those classes.”