As declining state revenue and increasing expenses continue to plague California community colleges, CR is finding it necessary to decrease offerings in some areas and reallocate those resources to high-demand classes.
After a review of student demand in previous semesters, CR will be increasing the number of classes in the 2013 summer and fall class schedules needed by the majority of students planning to graduate or transfer. These include speech, English, math and biology. Other areas where classes will be added include Native American studies, sociology and psychology.
”By increasing the number of classes in these high-demand areas, our goal is to help students complete their degrees and certificate programs faster,” said CR president Kathryn Smith. “The state of California is emphasizing the importance of having more students complete their educational programs. At CR, we want to help our students succeed and move on to a four-year university or into the job market.”
In the student services area, CR is initiating a new first-year experience program for students aimed at helping them to be successful. This program includes mandatory counseling and student education plans; more structured orientation as well as online orientation; early alert intervention; and special student success workshops in study skills, financial literacy and time management.
These student success initiatives have been developed collectively by faculty, staff, administration, managers and students. The Community Colleges’ chancellor’s office, with direction from the state legislature, has required community colleges to adopt some of these programs.
Serious fiscal issues add to need for changes
The primary factor in CR’s reallocation of resources has been the serious financial challenges facing the college. CR is trying to close a $2 million gap in its budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year.
Over the past five years, CR has received 13 percent less in state funding to operate the college. That funding decrease is combined with the fact that CR’s operating costs have continued to climb with salary, health benefits and utility costs. This is causing a “structural deficit.”
”That means as a college, we are increasing our yearly expenses while receiving less funding,” Smith said. “We have exhausted our reserve funds. So we have to move our resources to areas that are needed by students and that will increase enrollments. More students mean an increase in funding from the state for CR. We are working hard together to make sure CR remains vital and sustainable.”
Smith added, “In order for CR to receive the same amount of revenue in 2012-13 as last year, we must enroll the equivalent of 100 additional full-time students in the summer 2013 term.”
To address its financial challenges, in the last three months, CR permanently eliminated 39 staff and management positions, and will eliminate two senior level administrative positions by July 1, 2013.
While no academic or career technical education programs have been eliminated at the college, certain areas have had course offerings reduced. One area is music. The degree program, which includes music courses - the Associate of Arts degree in liberal arts - remains completely intact. However, the performance classes, including such things as the concert band, the jazz ensemble, the wind ensemble, chorale and opera production - are slated to be moved to CR’s community education division.
Part of the reason for moving these classes to CR’s community education program is the state recently imposed a limit on repeating classes.
”CR values these music classes as does the community, so we hope that they will continue to exist as a part of community education,” Smith said. “The chancellor’s office has mandated that every community college must focus on these three core missions - degree transfer, career technical education and basic skills programs in English and math.”
Other subject areas that have had the number of class sections reduced include construction technology, anthropology and foreign languages such as French, German and Japanese.