Spring 2013 might see 200 classes cut

Up to 200 class sections could be cut from the spring 2013 academic semester according to a statement made by the Pierce College president at Mondays Academic Senate meeting.

President Kathleen Burke-Kelley made the announcement amid a string of updates that included cuts to student workers, postage and fuel.

“We have nothing,” she said.

The 200 classes are expected to close if the tax initiative, championed by Gov. Jerry Brown, fails in November.

Money from the tax hike would be used to fund public education throughout the state.

Right now polling for the budget initiative is just above 50 percent but it needs a two-thirds majority to pass, said John Zayac, Vice President for Academic Policy.

For that reason, Zayac said, he expected the president to announce some sort of contingency cuts.

The announced cuts came as a surprise to Academic Senate president Tom Rosdahl.

“We’ve been cutting, cutting, cutting over years, so we’re almost to the bone,” he said.

Rosdahl expressed concern that further cuts will make it increasingly difficult for students to get their degree at Pierce.

Whereas it used to take two years to get a degree, it may now take three or four years, he said.

With the increasing lack of availability of classes, Rosdahl worries that some students may have to turn to for-profit institutions such as University of Phoenix, which charge for classes at higher prices.

This would negatively impact lower and middle income students, who make up the majority of Pierce students, he said.

“[Such a system is] providing an education only for those who can afford education,” Rosdahl said.

However, Zayac is determined to diminish the impacts of the proposed cuts to students.

As part of the Scheduling Advisement Committee, which decides how to make cuts and makes recommendations to administration, he’s made it a priority that students don’t start a program only to have a needed class no longer available, he said.

“We don’t want to close off somebody’s major,” he said.

Zayac admits that going about that task will be difficult.

“As we’re cutting classes, students are either not coming here anymore or they can’t get into classes,” he said.

With the funding for Pierce proportional to the amount of students attending, the cuts to classes will contribute to the increasing lack of funds, he said.

Zayac expects two more years of hard times before things turn around and the college can add more classes again, but Rosdahl offered a more dire prediction.

“The prediction now is this downturn may last another three to four years,” Rosdahl said. “So it’s pretty pathetic for students.”

If the tax initiative passes, students can expect to see only 45 sections cut for Spring 2013, just as 45 sections are expected to be cut for Fall 2012, Zayac said.

 

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