I had the opportunity to attend the annual Community College League of California Legislative Conference in Sacramento over the week-end. The presenters gave us good news and bad news.
The good news is the a few weeks ago the California Board of Governors adopted 22 recommendations from the Student Success Task Force that will improve the success and completion rates of our students in community college. The bad news is that the Governor’s 2012-13 budget proposal is not promising for community colleges.
The community college system has taken pride in its focus on access. Every and any one could access higher education through community college. Currently the community college system has 2.9 million students. However, recently there has been a shift from just access to success. The data illustrates that many of our students particularly low-income and ethnic minority students were not completing certificates, attaining degrees, or transferring. They were not succeeding in community colleges.
The legislature recognized this and in 2010 a bill was passed that directed the Chancellor’s office to create a Student Success Task Force. This task force met throughout 2011 to establish recommendations and in the fall began having forums to obtain input for these recommendations. On Jan. 9, 2012, 22 recommendations were presented to the Board of Governors who have now adopted them to create change in the community college system that will enable a greater number of students to succeed. You can access the recommendations at, http://www.californiacommunitycolleges.cccco.edu/Portals/0/StudentSuccessTaskForce/SSTF_FinalReport_Web_010312.pdf
The bad news now. Gov. Brown released his proposed budget on Jan. 5, 2012. He identified a deficit of $9.2 billion ($4.1 billion carried over from 2011-12). The Governor intends to close this deficit through a combination of cuts and a temporary revenue increase that needs to be approved by the voters in November. The cuts include $1.321 billion in education and an additional $301.7 million in reduction to the Cal Grants for financial aid. The increase in revenue will be personal income and sales and use taxes.
Should the initiative pass there will still be a need to make cuts because the community college system has been cut over $789 million over the last three years. If the initiative does not pass there will be even more devastating cuts which will include programmatic cuts and lay-offs. This does not include a $46 per unit increase in student fees beginning this summer. Understand these fees do not go directly to the community college, but to the state general fund. The cuts that have already occurred and can still occur have put the intellectual infrastructure of California in a dire situation.
The good news and bad news will have a direct impact on Cabrillo College. I am pleased to report that Cabrillo began more than a year ago to implement some of these student success recommendations before they even became recommendations. Should the initiative not pass the Cabrillo cuts may be an additional $3 million for 2012-13 after already cutting $3 million over the past two years.
The initiative must pass.