Money added to a ‘grim’ budget

Shweta Saraswat

The college will add $2.4 million to its budget by the end of the year as a result of overall growth, according to an announcement by Pierce College President RobertGarber at Monday’s Academic Senate meeting.

However, Garber said the budget is “looking grim,” explaining that recent cuts made by the state in K-12 education spending will ultimately affect the community colleges as well.

According to Garber, Pierce is presently trying to “build back from the structural deficit by adding growth dollars” to their budget, a solution he admits will not serve in the long-term.

“Hopefully the state will resolve its budget issues in the next two to three years,” he said after the meeting.

Despite the tight budget, Garber said he will “do everything to maintain course offerings and not let enrollment spiral downwards.”

Senate President Tom Rosdahl pointed out that the Los Angeles Community College District’s proposed ending balance for the 2006-07 fiscal year was $3 million, when in actuality the district ended with $73 million – a significant amount of which is assumed to be in reserve.

“The district seems to have a lot of money, but the colleges don’t see it,” said Rosdahl, who is also an instructor of automotive service technology.

Out of the nine colleges in the LACCD, seven are operating with deficits, according to Rosdahl.

After the meeting, he said he hopes to question Chancellor Marshall Drummond about this distribution problem when Drummond comes to the Pierce campus on May 12.

The possible auditing of all state community college districts was another issue brought up during the meeting.

Senate members discussed the problem that some California community college districts allegedly are not accurately reporting whether or not they are heeding the 50-50 law, which states that 50 percent of college budgets must be spent directly in classrooms.

“The administration doesn’t like it,” said Rosdahl, suggesting that college administrators would prefer to spend less money specifically in classrooms and more on “VPs and deans.”

Since not all districts are necessarily telling the truth regarding this budget division, Rosdahl stated that the state government may begin auditing all 72 community college districts – six every year.

In other business, the senate unanimously voted to pass the Student Initiated Enrollment Replenishment program, in which the present waiting-list method of enrolling students into classes will be replaced with an “interest list.”

This new method allows students to fill class vacancies the moment they appear, thus eliminating any enrollment gap that may occur.

The interest list system should “increase the chance of a class being filled up on the first day,” according to William Duxler, department chair of physical and planetary sciences, who supports the plan.

“The core idea of this whole proposal is basically to have students fill the classes on a first-come, first-served basis,” he said.

Duxler predicts that the earliest this replenishment system can be implemented is in the spring of 2009.

Pierce College President, Robert Garber, reported about how Pierce will deal wtih the budget cut for next year at the Academic Senate meeing, March 10. ()