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Budget rises, enrollment declines

rwoodson.advocate@gmail.com

Published: Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 17:02


Passage of Proposition 30 in the Nov. 6 election offered California community colleges temporary relief from the state’s budget crisis, which has led to roughly $21 million in cuts in the Contra Costa Community College District over the last four years.

The proposition gives the state’s community college system $196.7 million in increased funding for the 2012-13, and the district will receive approximately $3.5 million of that money.

However, funds accumulated by Proposition 30, which raises California’s sales tax rates by one quarter of one percent and income tax rates for people who earn over $250,000 annually, will go directly into the state’s general fund.

Only for 2012-13 were the funds guaranteed to fund K-14 education.

With the increase in funding, Contra Costa College administrators planned on adding 6 percent in course load to the spring 2013 schedule.

California’s community colleges are funded based on each college’s number of Full-Time Equivalent Students (FTES). One FTES equals one student enrolled in at least 12 units during a semester.

Interim Vice President Donna Floyd said the college is striving to add courses to increase FTES.

“(The administration) is a little bit away from meeting our percentage (FTES) goal. We are adding late start classes to the schedule that will benefit students,” she said.

After years of continuous cuts to courses and reductions in student services, the campus has been losing or was being forced to turn away potential students resulting in lower enrollment numbers — the college was down 23 percent the week before instruction began on Jan. 14 as compared to the beginning of spring 2012.

Matriculation Services Coordinator Kenyetta Tribble said the low enrollment numbers could be attributed to a few factors including trying to re-attract students who may have lost interest or who went to other colleges because of CCC’s budget woes.

Other issues that could have negatively affected spring enrollment were the process of adding more courses, ensuring the necessity of the additional courses and accounting for courses that had to be cut because they could not meet the 20-student roster limit.

Tribble said starting the semester earlier than usual shrunk numbers even more as students came to enroll for courses two weeks after the first day of instruction only to find out that they were too late to enroll.

As of Jan. 28, enrollment had risen from -23 percent from one year ago to -15 percent — from 2,172 FTES to 2,789.

“If (CCC) doesn’t meet its FTES goal it could affect our apportionment depending on if the district meets its FTES goal,” Floyd said. “If the district makes its goal, (the college) will receive its apportionment. If the district doesn’t (and CCC fails as well) it could affect our portion of the apportionment.”

The district fund apportionment procedures can be found in Board Procedure 18.01.

District Chancellor Helen Benjamin said, “If one college gets smaller (loses students) and another is growing, FTES can be shifted.

To help boost FTES and attract students CCC is starting a host of late-start classes on and off campus, some at local high schools such as El Cerrito, De Anza and Pinole.

In the 2013 proposed California budget Governor Jerry Brown offers up some huge changes for the community college system.

Among the changes are a shift from base funding apportionment based on an FTES enrollment number taken after 20 percent of a semester to an FTES number taken near the end of the semester. The reason for this is to shift the focus from enrollment to completion across the community college system.

This change is to be slowly phased in so colleges can better adjust their individual policies and procedures.

“I definitely support completion versus enrollment,” Tribble said.

“There have been times where we thought we had a certain number of students completing and we didn’t, which set us back.”

At the start of spring semester 2012 (Jan. 23) CCC’s student headcount stood at 7,147 with a 2,773 FTES number. By May 29 both numbers grew — 7,537 students accounting for 3,013 FTES.

FTES and headcount levels are lower this year than they were the prior two years.

Other proposed changes are requiring all students who apply for a Board of Governor’s Fee Waiver to also apply for Federal Student Aid. This, as stated in the budget proposal, is to ensure those applying for the fee waiver are students who are in financial need.

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