A new Board of Trustees and a president later, SBCC still can’t shield its Continuing Education (CE) courses from state budget cuts. What it is hoping to do, however, is put in place a structure that will keep the CE program viable, if a bit more expensive. To that end, SBCC is hosting two more public forums after one was held this Wednesday. They’ll take place February 10 from 6-7 p.m. at the Selmer O. Wake Center, and Monday, February 13, from 12:30-1:30 p.m. at the Wake Center.
At these meetings, Acting President Jack Friedlander will recruit community members for a task force to report on the state of CE and propose recommendations for what he has dubbed the Center for Lifelong Learning, a self-sustaining division of the college that will not depend on any state funding. Trustee Peter Haslund, who said CE courses “contribute greatly to the social fiber of any community” but empathizes with Governor Brown’s desire not to spend money the state doesn’t have, is open to a freewheeling discussion. “None of us has the corner on the market of good ideas,” he said. “I’m willing to talk about anything [attendees] want to talk about.”
This spring semester, 60 previously free courses require tuition. Vice President of CE Ofelia Arellano characterized them as “advanced classes for older adults” such as ceramics and jewelry. The trustees have approved building a 14-percent cut of overhead costs into the fee for each course. The state, in an effort to increase transfer rates to four-year colleges, is prioritizing degree and certificate programs over enrichment courses. Former trustee Desmond O’Neill said, “I applaud the effort to involve the public, but there has to be a recognition on the part of the user groups of CE that funding is extremely limited and CE is not a priority of community colleges. As we found out in the last election [where all the incumbent board members lost their seats], CE people vote, but it is still the state that calls the shots on spending priorities.”