Funds: Use them or lose them

The state allocates funds to Pierce to fill in any gaps in the educational resources offered. However, if those funds aren’t used, that money goes back to California.

The Senate approved Bill 860 in 2014, an addition to the Education Code Section 7822 that ensures equity funds for all college students based on different necessities. The purpose of this law is to ensure equal educational opportunities and promote student success, regardless of race, gender, age, disability and income.

Crystal Kiekel, the director of the Center for Academic Success, said the funds are used to identify equity gaps on campus.

“We use our data based on student statues, such as veterans, disability, race, creed and gender to cover the gaps,” Kiekel said.

Kiekel said that when equity funds are not spent, the state takes it back.

“If they are not spending the funds, we are in a position that we either spend the funds or give it back to the state of California,” Kiekel said.

Vice President of Student Services Earic Dixon-Peters said the state provides the equity funds to the college.

“The student equity statewide initiative is when the state allocates funds for California community colleges to close equity gaps in five different areas,” Dixon-Peters said. “Those areas cover course competition, degree, certificate, transfer and basic skills.”

Dixon-Peters said there are guidelines on spending the equity funds.

“As we move into the integrated planning with the equity funding, we have two years to spend the equity funds that the state gives us,” Dixon-Peters said. “The state has specific mandates on how we spend the funds based on requirements of each area that covers each initiative.”

Charles Johnson, instructor on special assignment, said that equity funds are important to fund his department.

“Equity funds are a major support for the veteran services here at Pierce College,” Johnson said. “Equity funds fill in the equity gaps, which in this case, gives all access to veterans for all programs. For example, the equity funds pay for the coffee maker, printer, computers or any supplies we need for our program.”