Cuts limit student services
Published: Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 15:09
Nine million dollars in base funding is what the district stands to gain or lose depending on how votes are cast in the Nov. 6 election.
The Contra Costa Community College District budget has been partially adjusted to reflect the possibility of more funding thanks to Proposition 30, which will apportion more state funding to public elementary schools, high schools and community colleges.
Proposition 30 raises state sales tax by one quarter of one cent, in addition to increasing state income tax rates for residents who make more than $250,000 annually.
If the tax measure does not pass the district faces further cuts creating more staffing issues at Contra Costa College. Funding reductions totaling more than $21 million over the past four years put an even bigger strain on the Student Services Center staff and faculty at CCC.
Because of the loss of personnel some positions in the SSC have been eliminated, programs have been moved and services have been forced upon other departments.
“We have lost our transfer person and our community outreach person,” Interim Dean of Students Vicki Ferguson said.
“Scholarships are now a part of the Financial Aid Office and transfer services are provided by the Counseling Office.”
Students have also been adversely affected from the cuts to the budget and student services. Ferguson said the SSC would become overcrowded with foot traffic — students filling lines at various office counters and standing against walls. These students would sometimes become impatient.
“Financial aid sucks,” culinary arts student Lawrence Harvey said.
“Some of them have attitudes and don’t know what they are talking about sometimes. One particular person gave me attitude a couple of times.”
Harvey said the lines at the Financial Aid Office are, “crazy, dumb long.”
“It’s like everyone waited until school started to apply for financial aid.”
Director of Business Sevices Mariles Magalong said CCC’s budget will be $24.4 million if Proposition 30 passes. In the event the vote goes the other way, CCC will be reduced by roughly $1.1 million.
In some situations where students may require further assistance or have experienced longer wait times, they have become upset. Ferguson said she called Police Services on occasion to walk through the building.
Financial Aid Manager Viviane LaMothe said her office assisted more than 3,000 students who were trying to register after the first day of instruction.
“We saw, on average, 300 students per day with an average wait time of 45 minutes,” she said. “We are still behind because we are assisting students regularly.”
LaMothe said some staff members’ workloads in the Financial Aid Office have been reduced by months.
Offices in the SSC employ student workers and other non-permanent employees, but LaMothe said that creates another problem.
“Temporary help needs to be trained. It takes time and people to train others.”
Ferguson said the services in the SSC are instrumental for the success of the college.
“Student services are the threads that keep everyone together and right now we are really lean. We really need the students’ voice on these issues. Students listen to other students,” she said.
Fifteen-year counselor Robert Webster said the cuts have not reduced the full-time staff, just the part-time faculty in the counseling department.