More cuts on the horizon announced at Town Hall meeting

Facing an across–the-board 7 percent cut and eradication of all non-essential services the Pierce College president outlined the preliminary budget for the 2012/13 school year during a town hall style meeting Thursday afternoon.


“I have personally, in 31 years of higher education, never seen it this bad,” said Kathleen Burke-Kelly, Pierce College president. “We ebb and flow as the state does.”


The best case scenario for the college will see the budget neither growing or shrinking but remaining flat, said Burke-Kelly.


The worst case scenario will find the college being forced to cut at least 7 percent of its classes and cancel all non-essential services not related to safety.


Even after waiting for income taxes to be turned in during April the college will have to wait until after November when Gov. Brown’s tax initiative will be decided before knowing the full budgetary picture.


The college is facing an almost $4 million shortfall even after slashing services and classes, which it hopes to make up in any number of ways. Opportunities include eliminating non-permanent labor members, reducing supplies further, eliminating non self-sustaining programs and getting district money.


The atmosphere remained tense as speaker after speaker pleaded with the administration not to cut their programs.

Valorie Grear and Steve Piazza, speaking for the music department were followed by Betty David bemoaning the imminent demise of the Child Development Center.


Community member Robert Flanders encouraged the college to spare the industrial technology department citing large scale hiring by companies like Rocketdyne, a company located in Canoga Park.


During the question and answer period Joanna Zimring-Towne, director of the career and counseling center, received thunderous applause for her suggestion of  making small cuts into instructor and administrator salary. The option is currently not open to discussion as only the district has the authority to negotiate with the union, however.


In answer to questions about the Pierce Farm, Burke-Kelly announced plans to travel to Washington DC and discuss the possibility of making Pierce a land-grant college with the USDA.


As college administrators encouraged the crowd to think outside the box in order to find solutions, an 80-year-old ENCORE student named Ronald Gordon took the stage to volunteer donations from his fellow classmates.


“There are very many people that can afford to pay,” said Gordon. “They could easily afford $500 for what they’re getting.”


Many other students, professors, faculty members and community members came forward to speak as well. Don Sparks, physics instructor and union president encouraged the entire school to become politically active.

“We have to get these budget initiatives passed to even stay flat,” said Sparks.



In other news


The PCC voted to ask Kathleen Burke-Kelly to submit to the LACCD Chancellor a request to continue construction on the new Media Arts building, thereby circumventing the moratorium and gaining ADA compliance.


The PCC voted to distribute $33,623 in unallocated funds to various departments throughout the school. The money was gained through various fundraising efforts by the different departments and under current school budget guidelines they are entitled to it. will be receiving $8,460 in excess funds from the Roundup per Jill Connelly’s request. The head of the department was further informed that in coming years all non self-sustaining programs may be in jeopardy due to the budget crisis.


Federal law requires the return of $28,256 in federal funds that the government had provided for no-show student. Collection activities are being commenced against these students. To help keep this dollar amount low instructors have been advised to drop all no-show students on the first day of class.


The ASO received an award from the Red Cross for gathering the largest amount of ‘units’ in the district, said Shane Mooney.

The dance department is requesting funds from the theater department for their piano player who was formerly paid by a community service organization.


The budget committee is planning to expand its membership by including the two vice presidents and others.


Discussion continued about forcing Swinerton to pay for underground water lines that they broke during construction.

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