Former Santa Barbaramayor Marty Blum brushed off the suggestion she is running for the Santa Barbara City College Board of Trustees because she is “bored.” Instead, Blum said she is running because she is “dismayed” and “appalled” that City College executive Andreea Serban dismissed a fundraising offer from J’Amy Brown — then president of the Citizens Advisory Committee for Continuing Education — to help keep City College’s summer Adult Education classes open.
Serban and the board shut the summer classes down to save the school $375,000. Brown claimed she had raised $150,000 for Adult Ed classes during a similar budget crisis in 2005 and had offered to do it again. Serban, she claimed, rebuffed the offer, arguing it would require too many bookkeepers. Serban emphatically denied ever rejecting any such offer. “It’s an absurd statement to say I declined help,” Serban said. Her concern at the time was that if donations were given class-by-class, that would require an inordinate number of separate accounts and considerable administrative overhead. Then as now, Serban stressed, Santa Barbara City College Foundation had the lead in any fundraising efforts.
But Blum — who served on the Citizens Advisory Committee with Brown — does not recall it that way. Good ideas, she said, were being swept away. Blum and three other candidates are now challenging the four incumbents seeking reelection to the City College Board. The controversy over Adult Education — and how summer classes were cut — will be a centerpiece in the challengers’ campaign.
Blum has already been faulted by incumbent Boardmember Des O’Neill for missing meetings and not playing an active role when she did attend. One of the challengers running, Marsha Croninger, has demanded tape recordings of recent board meetings, arguing that the tapes will show the minutes of the meetings prepared by City College staff do not accurately reflect the tone, tenor, or content of statements made by those critical of the cuts. Serban explained that City College initially resisted giving over the tapes; however, she stated that the board has reconsidered and that a recording of this month’s board meeting — which takes place this Thursday — will be posted online.
As far as J’Amy Brown’s claim that she raised $150,000 for Adult Education in 2005, Serban said college financial records do not bear Brown out. She said Adult Ed received $133,000 in donations that year, and nearly half of that came from the Santa Barbara Foundation.