The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

College copes with shortfall

City College students and staff attended a forum on California's budget crisis and its local impact on Los Rios Community College district, which includes City College. Proposed education cuts could total $1 billion. ||Dennis Freeman|| [email protected]

There is a lot of uncertainty in the air, but one thing is for sure: Community College students will face a fee hike this fall semester.

There are currently three possible scenarios for impending budget cuts, according to the Community College League of California’s website.

Each scenario includes trimming funds to the community college system, and each includes an increase in per-unit fees from a minimum of a $36-per-unit fee to a $66-per-unit fee next semester.

“There are no easy solutions,” said Dean Murakami, president of the Los Rios College Federation of Teachers “Things are still in flux and there’s a lot of stuff happening.”

At a Feb. 24 on-campus forum in Lillard Hall, Murakami discussed the economic future of the Los Rios district with faculty and a small group of students. Murakami said he has heard legislators mention fees soaring as high as $100 per unit.

College and district officials note that other variables contributing to future fee hikes include Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget proposal and whether an extension on current state taxes will make it to a special election June ballot.

California is facing a $25 billion deficit this year, according the CCL website. Brown has proposed a $400 million cut to community colleges in his 2011-2012 fiscal year budget.

“The governor’s proposal is very manageable for Los Rios and Sac City,” said Vice President of Administrative Services Robert Martinelli. “We will still have to make cuts, but they will be more like tweaks.”
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However, in past years Los Rios has been financially frugal, according to Martinelli, setting aside two-thirds of its yearly funds for the future.

“We are the envy of the state right now,” said Martinelli, “because we are in such good financial shape.”

Still, the district has used $21 million to backfill lost state money from its $80 million reserve fund, Martinelli said.

“Any time you start dipping into your reserves, you jeopardize your future,” he said. “You’re robbing from the nest egg.”

The dollar amount of cuts to the California community colleges keeps getting bigger. At the Feb. 24 forum, Murakami said the worst-case scenario could be a $900 million cut to California community colleges. Currently, the Community College League of California’s website shows a potential cut of $1.085 billion to the state’s community colleges.

The Los Rios Community College District is in the process of developing three different plans to deal with possible cuts of $12.8 million, then up to $16 million and $22.5 million for the 2011-2012 fiscal year. According to Martinelli, the first two scenarios are feasible for the district, but the third plan is “when you have to start thinking out of the box.

“That’s a whole new ball game,” he said.

For current figures, click here.

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