Frustrations continued to flare last week at the Santa Barbara City College Board of Trustees meeting. More than 100 concerned Adult Education students and faculty turned out late Thursday afternoon to bemoan the administration’s recent decision to cancel a vast majority of their summer offerings in the name of fiscal prudence, and to criticize the manner in which the decision was made. In fact, many in attendance — taking their cue from an official message on the school’s Web site for much of the past month — thought the meeting was going to see the trustees actually deliberate about and vote on the summer course cuts, but rather, as the afternoon turned to evening, it was apparent to all in attendance that the decision had been made prior to the public event. Lynda Fairly, the former head of SBCC’s Adult Ed program, took the board and the current administration to task during an emotional round of public comment. “Our program is truly cherished in this community … But the problem today is shared governance — we don’t have it.”
Interestingly enough, representatives from both the Associated Continuing Education Students (ACES) group and the SBCC Continuing Ed Teachers Association also spoke during public comment, crying foul about the decision and formally withdrawing their support for it after recently finding out the school currently enjoys a several-million-dollar-strong budget surplus after cancelling classes last year and converting dozens of offerings from free to fee-based this past winter. “We have a budget surplus, we have ample reserves, yet the cuts and cancellations continue,” said ACES representative Marsha Croninger. “This is an educational institution — this isn’t a bank.”
For their part, both SBCC President Andreea Serban and several of the trustees, pointing to the many hundreds of course offerings slated for when classes resume in the fall, bristled at the notion that the school does not support Adult Ed. As for the recent revelation that projections of a budget deficit are in fact multimillion-dollar surpluses, Serban explained that the extra dough is a much-needed blessing given the current state of economics in Sacramento and the possibility that the school will not receive its monthly apportionment payments this summer and into the fall should budget talks stall.