California is losing money annually and its once reputable higher education system and the students of Contra Costa College are feeling the effects of the relentless revenue reductions.
CCC’s spring 2012 course catalog lists 17 Career and Technical Education programs, including journalism, medical assisting and office technology, culinary arts management and automotive services.
In the fall 2012 semester, the college will have 14 CTE programs. Dental assisting, solar technology and radiological science are the latest to be cut.
Students like 22-year-old Amanda Helfer, who entered into the dental assisting program last summer, will not have the chance to finish the program.
“I have to find another major or go to a different school,” she said. “It sucks. It really sucks. It doesn’t give others the opportunity that I had to get into a great field.”
CTE programs are courses intended to educate students in order for them to attain a certificate, a degree or the necessary education needed to gain employment in different fields.
According to Board Policy 4008, the guidelines the district uses to govern CTE and occupational programs, 50 percent of CTE programs are evaluated biennially to ensure the programs are up to standard.
Each program must meet documented labor market demand, have course curriculum unique to the area, represent its effectiveness by the completion and employment rates of its students as well as be reviewed in conjunction with the California Green Collar Jobs Act of 2008.
Board Policy 4008 does not list the cost of a program as an evaluative tool for managing CTE programs.
“I was told not to schedule classes for the next school year because the college doesn’t have the funding to support the program,” dental assisting Chairperson Sandra Everhart said. “Because our students don’t come in as a cohort they don’t all graduate at one time. It might take 2-3 years to complete the program and attain a degree or certificate.”
Although an exact dollar amount could not be given as to how much it costs to run the dental assisting program for one year, Everhart said the $302,000 grant the program received last year from the Unity Council to continue the program, after 2011’s discontinuance scare, was only enough to fund the program for one year.
Everhart also said her students are highly sought after in the professional world. Students in the program must complete an internship as a requirement.
“(Dentists) overwhelmingly state that our interns are great and that they would hire our students,” Everhart said.
Interim Vice President Donna Floyd said each college in the district is supposed to have its own policy governing CTE and occupational programs in place.
She said a policy for CCC was approved in a College Council meeting on May 2, but the process might take until fall 2013 to be effective.
The policy, referred to as the Administrative Policy on Program Revitalization, Suspension and Discontinuance, may reference Board Policy 4008, but will differ.
“We have been using the district’s policy, but it is general,” Dr. Floyd said. “It doesn’t have specific steps that a college would follow. (In our policy) we tried to spell out each aspect of evaluating a program.”
In a report issued at the April 25 district Governing Board meeting, California’s general fund has dwindled 16 percent since the 2007-08 fiscal year, from $102.98 billion to $86.51 billion in 2011-12.
The district’s budget dropped from $151.1 million in 2007-08 to $133.5 million in 2011-12.
Dean of Economic Development Priscilla Leadon said two-thirds of the college’s students are enrolled in at least one CTE course.
“We have to keep their skills and training up to date and coherent with the changing world of each field,” Leadon said. “The workforce drives CTE programs, making them have to stay current. It’s hard.”