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COC clips summer classes

Posted: June 9, 2009 8:53 p.m.
Updated: June 10, 2009 4:55 a.m.

College of the Canyon administrators have cut 20 percent of the school’s summer-session classes as the community college braces for a budget cut that could top $8 million, a college official said Tuesday.

“The state has proposed significant cuts to community colleges. This translates into significant cuts for College of the Canyons,” said Barry Gribbons, assistant superintendent.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed an $800 million cut to community colleges across the state. That could mean a cut between $7 and $8 million to the Santa Clarita Valley’s only community college, he said.

The governor’s proposed cuts to community colleges came late in the year and was higher than expected, Gribbons said.

“We have very few choices that we can make,” Gribbons said.

Part of the cuts involve trimming the summer-session classes that would have the least impact on students, Gribbons said.

The college is offering 415 sections this summer, a 20 percent decrease from 2008, Gribbons said.

“At the same time, we recognize that demand for our sections is going up tremendously. So this is an especially difficult time for us to reduce classes,” he said. “I know it creates a lot of frustration for many folks.”

A “section” is described as a block of class time.

Perla Rodriguez and Manpreet Singh, both 19, are two College of the Canyons students already impacted by the cuts. The improv class they signed up for was  cancelled.

Singh was planning on transferring from College of the Canyons in two years, but the cancellation could change his plans.

“It’s just going to take longer,” Singh said.

In preparation for the budget cuts, College of the Canyons administrators have gone through travel and supply budgets, trimming them as much as possible, Gribbons said.

The college is already using grant dollars and funding from the College of the Canyons Foundation to help meet the projected shortfall amount, he said.

But the magnitude of the cuts most likely will impact students.

“If the governor’s proposed budget is enacted by the legislature, it’s unlikely that we’ll be able to completely keep the cuts away from our students and the folks who need retraining,” Gribbons said.

The community college already has served about 1,400 more full-time equivalent students than the college was paid for by the state for during the 2009-10 school year, he said.

The college’s admissions and records office on the Valencia campus has seen a influx of people since open registration began last week, said Jasmine Ruys, director of admissions, records and on-line services.

The college has already seen an increase in students as regional community colleges cut back on classes, bringing people to the Santa Clarita Valley. Recently laid-off employees are also hitting College of the Canyons in the hope of retraining for a new career. The William S. Hart Union High School District cut back its offering of summer classes, sending high-school students to College of the Canyons.

“We have a whole new set of people coming in,” said Ruys.

Summer session students typically draw high-school students looking to get ahead on requirements while earning high-school and college credits simultaneously, she said.

The college hosted its high-school registration day for summer courses on June 3, which brought more than 1,500 people, she said.

“We put over 600 people in classes and well over 1,000 on wait lists,” she said.

Last summer, the college saw between 300 and 400 high-school students enrolled in summer session, she said.

One high-school student trying to get ahead on her requirements is Damali Stennette, a Saugus High School junior.

Stennette was in line Tuesday waiting to sign up for health, political-science and physical-education classes over the summer, she said.

She hoped to take the classes as a way to earn college credit and boost her grade-point average.

“I’d rather get it out of the way now so I can take two science classes during my senior year,” she said.

Despite the cuts, the community college will continue its attempts to meet student needs.

“We’ll do our best. We’ll do everything we can, but the magnitude of the cuts really ties our hands in many ways,” Gribbons said.



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