A new-look Santa Barbara City College Board of Trustees gathered for an uncharacteristically short meeting on Thursday afternoon to discuss some uncharacteristically good news.
For instance, new positions have been identified for seven of the eight employees whose current posts will be eliminated due to the college’s reorganization in which continuing education classes will either be assimilated into the Educational Programs administrative structure or reconstituted as part of a new privately-funded entity called The Center for Lifelong Learning (CLL). Applications for the top job in the CLL, executive director, are currently being reviewed.
The passage of Proposition 30 and Governor Jerry Brown’s subsequent budget proposal also bode well for the college. It’s hard to know how the budget will shake out after it gets through the wood chipper of the State Assembly and then gets filtered through the state community college system’s Board of Governors.
But Vice President of Business Services, Joe Sullivan, reported that, as it stands, the budget should net the system an added $196.9 million in Proposition 98-guaranteed funds, $2.5 million specifically for City College. Some more speculative chunks of change include $16.9 million for online courses, a $450 million energy efficiency funded that would net SBCC $750,000, and a shifting of resources from K-12 schools to community colleges to centralize adult education offerings. Furthermore, the state will make good on $179 million of deferred payments — money it owes the colleges but has not paid. Such deferrals — of which $622 million-worth will still exist — force colleges to borrow money.
The budget also proposes that students with over 90 credits pay non-resident fees. But even those will decrease, if only by a dollar. After board approval, SBCC will now charge $211 per unit, down from $212. The purpose of the policy is to prioritize students whose intent it is to transfer.
Another policy with the intention of keeping students on schedule to either transfer or earn certificates will apportion money only for every student that completes a course. The current formula counts the number of enrolled students after 20 percent of a semester is completed. According to the governor’s budget proposal, the state would phase in this change over five years.
The biggest reason for optimism may be unmeasurable in dollars and cents, however. After much turmoil over the last couple years, it seems like the entire City College community is settling back into widespread collegiality. Classifed employee union President Liz Auchincloss noted “more cohesiveness than there has been in the past year.” Newly-installed trustee Craig Nielsen said, “As a new board member, I thought I would stumble into all kinds of dysfunctional things,” but found that wasn’t the case.
The college will soon issue a revised mission statement and vote on the issuance of a new series of Measure V bonds at the next board meeting on February 28.