Out of pocket

Lorrie Reyes / Roundup


For over 60 years, Pierce College has continuously grown both physically, with the constant construction producing new buildings that seem to be popping up all over campus, and internally with student enrollment reaching 22,000-23,000 students in fall 2009, according to Ken Takeda Vice President of Administrative Services.

Don’t worry, Pierce College is not in debt.

But it’s not a pretty picture.

“Basically there are three different sources of money,” said Takeda “one is the state allocations, second would be federal money coming to us as part of the stimulus package and third would be from the college surplus.”

During the 2008-2009 fiscal year, Pierce received $69,619,567 from the Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees.

The final adoptive budget for the 2009-2010 fiscal year, which runs from July 1 through June 30, Pierce College received  $64,828,425, or a seven percent decrease,  in unrestricted general funds, according to Takeda.

Federal funding numbers had were not provided as Pierce has not received any funding at the time this story went to print.

Pierce did have a surplus from the 08-09 fiscal year which totaled about $8.5 million to help offset the decrease in funds received from LACCD.

However, because LACCD requires each college to carry reserves for unexpected expenses Pierce was asked to not use their surplus.

“The district looks to colleges like Pierce and East [Los Angeles College] to preserve their balances, even grow them year to year” said Takeda.

So the true budget that Pierce is trying to focus on is around $56 million.

With a projected $2 million more additional cutting to be able to balancing this year’s budget  “What gets cut?” becomes the question.

“When all is said and done, Pierce College will pretty much balance its budget,” said Nabil Abu-Ghazaleh Pierce’s Vice President of Academic Affairs. “We’ve been financially responsible over the years.”

Besides actual classes being cut, an additional 50 classes will have to be cut during spring, categorical programs which include mostly student services are taking a tremendous hit per the state chancellor’s office.

The Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOP&S) helps low-income students with financial aid and services has seen a 40 percent cut which totals  $417,00, according to David Follosco EOP&S Director.

Cal-Works program and a portion of the Child Devolvement Center also took a drastic hits losing 38 and nearly 50 percent in funding for 09-10.

“If you asked anybody, we wouldn’t want to cut anything,” said Follosco. “But the bottom line in the categorical programs we don’t have a say so.”

At least there hasn’t been any layoffs for the staff.

One might bring up the construction. On the outside, things look new and flourishing since there are numerous projects going on.

But looks can be deceiving.

“People think that with all the construction they think that we must be well off,” said Takeda. “They are two entirely pots of money.”

Propositions A, AA and Measure J were passed by voters and largely contributes  to the $6 billion that the Los Angeles Community College District gets to spend on The Sustainable Building Program for the nine schools within the district.

The LACCD allocated $648 million to Pierce, the second highest amount behind East,  for construction that has included the completion of Steven E. Schofield Aquatic Center,  the Student Services Building, the upcoming  Center for the Sciences, gymnasium, Child Development Center among many other projects that will modernize and beautify the school.

“We have more money on the construction side then we do on the operating side,” said Takeda.

However, that money is set aside and cannot be used for any other reason besides building and renovating.

Many of the construction projects are slated to be finished in the 2010-2011 fiscal year.

But that might be the only bright side for next year.

“Our budget depends entirely on the state’s budget,” said Interim President Joy McCaslin.

“I don’t anticipate the upcoming budget to be better than what we have right now,” said Abu-Ghazaleh. “If we’re lucky it won’t be much worse. At this point, that’s all we can hope for.”

“Everyone is planning for 2010-11 to be a worse fiscal year,” said Takeda. “We’re not going to start to fully recover until the 2012-2013 fiscal year.”

The good news for Pierce, LACCD and the state is that recessions end. Hopefully, Pierce won’t run out of funds before 2012.