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COC is readying for ‘tough two years’

Education: Without official budget, community college board adopts tentative plan based on state ass

Posted: June 24, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: June 24, 2011 1:55 a.m.
 

Without a state budget, the Santa Clarita Valley’s only community college adopted a tentative spending plan this week that prepares for tough state cuts.

“I think it’s going to be tough for the next two years,” board President Michele Jenkins said Thursday.

Wednesday’s approval of a tentative budget comes in time for the July 1 start of the 2011-12 fiscal year. COC leaders typically adopt a final budget in the fall once a state budget is passed, and community colleges have a better idea how much money they will receive.

College of the Canyons had drawn up three budgeting scenarios because the state lacks a balanced budget. A third, worst-case scenario has been ruled unnecessary, leaving it with two possible plans.

Under the better of the two workable scenarios, California community colleges would be hit with $400 million in cuts.

That would leave COC with $3.8 million less, which funds 837 full-time students, according to community college data.

The less-favorable scenario eliminates $600 million from California community colleges, translating to a $6.5 million cut for COC.

This funding reduction would eliminate money for 1,418 full-time students and 163 courses, the data shows.

Without a state budget in place, COC officials are budgeting with figures from the worse case. Any additional money that comes in will allow COC to add more classes and serve more students.

“It’s better to plan for that, and if you don’t have to cut as severely, then that’s a bonus,” Jenkins said.

The tentative budget comes as the community college has spent recent years trimming costs and limiting student enrollment because of fewer dollars from the state.

The loss in state funding is evident by College of the Canyons’ shrinking general fund, which has decreased by $6.4 million to $74.5 million this year.

Despite the cuts, College of the Canyons has kept its summer and winter sessions intact.

In fact, COC added 100 courses to the current summer session in the hope of providing students with the core classes they needed to finish programs and transfer to four-year universities.

COC leaders credit the situation to conservative spending, fiscal responsibility and smart use of reserve money.

“Everyone at the district really tries to pull together to make the cuts that are difficult, but necessary,” Jenkins said.

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