Chancellor’s forum brings light to current issues

Lauren J. Mapp, Editor-in-Chief

The fall semester Chancellor’s Forum – focusing on upcoming budgetary issues – was held at San Diego Mesa College on Monday Sept. 17 in room G-101.

San Diego Community College District Chancellor Constance M. Carroll addressed Mesa College’s staff and faculty with updates for the SDCCD on construction, budget cuts, course section cuts and possible solutions. A new round of state budget cuts that are set to begin next year will result in even fewer class sections being available.

Up to 700 classes sections were considered to be at risk by community college administrators during the 2012-2013 academic year. Classes that are not part of a degree program are one of the targets for cuts by state legislators.

“The state is entirely convinced that community colleges would be better off if there were certain things they didn’t do, and there is great pressure for community colleges not to offer as many avocational or recreational classes,” Carroll said.

One means by which the state is evaluating colleges in terms of budget cuts is by using an accreditation system of Student Learning Outcomes assessments. Through this, community colleges in California needed to create a set of SLOs for their departments and assess that the students within those programs were successfully meeting these goals.

Mesa College is currently on track to completing the SLOs and assessments by their due date next month.

“We are at 100 percent of Student Learning Outcomes in our courses, and 97 percent assessed. I think [there are] 16 or less [left] to be assessed…The faculty have done an incredible job with this,” Mesa College President Pamela Luster said during the forum.

Carroll also discussed Proposition 30 and how it will benefit California’s community colleges and the SDCCD if it is receives enough votes during the election on Nov. 6. If Prop 30 passes during the upcoming election, there will be a 0.25 percent increase in sales tax for the next four years, as well as a seven year personal income tax increase on individuals earning more than $250,000 a year.

The revenue generated from Prop 30 taxes would translate to the SDCCD receiving $5.6 million in deferral buy-down and an additional $1.7 million for Full-Time Equivalent Students, which is equal to about 150 course sections being added back into the overall class load.

If Prop 30 does not pass and the slated classes reductions do occur, instead of cutting 700 course sections immediately, the SDDCD would instead spread the class section cuts over the course three semesters.

“We will have to make these reductions…if Prop 30 does not pass. However, we do not want to do that all at once. It would be destabilizing to our students if all of a sudden in the spring semester we cut over 700 class sections,” said Carroll.

The district-hiring freeze – during which new faculty members are only hired when deemed absolutely necessary – would continue without Prop 30 funds as another means to cushion the impact of budget cuts.

“We do not have an expense problem, we have a revenue problem. That revenue problem that we have is passing down reductions to all of the community college districts, which is reducing the number of students that can be served,” said Bonnie Ann Dowd, Executive Vice Chancellor of Business and Technology Services.