CAPPS - Avocacy and Communication Professional Development

California Association of Private Postsecondary Schools

Multimillion-dollar CCSF bailout proposed by Sen. Mark Leno

02/11/2014

SFGate.  Feb 11, 2014.

As City College of San Francisco struggles to fix management problems and remain accredited, the school is also losing so many students that it faces a cut of at least $23 million in state funding next year if nothing is done.

So state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, introduced a bill Monday to give City College nearly as much money over the next four years as if it weren't losing thousands of students.

"This funding will help us avoid the death spiral," City College Chancellor Art Tyler said, noting that without it, the college would have to cut more classes and continue to shrink, which would cost it even more state funding because money is allocated by the size of enrollment.

The college has lost about 5,100 full-time students taking classes for credit this spring - a 16 percent loss over last spring, when 31,299 such students were enrolled. It's also cut 147 classes for low enrollment.

The decline translates to a loss of 12 percent of its general fund, or $23 million, college officials said. "Our students haven't gone anywhere," Tyler said. "They're just sitting on the sidelines, waiting to see what happens."

Although the college's accreditation was due to be revoked in July, a judge has barred that from happening until a trial can take place. Three lawsuits have been filed against theAccrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges by faculty, by college supporters and by the city itself.

Meanwhile, college officials have been trying to repair the many problems in hopes of remaining accredited.

Leno's bill, SB965, would let City College keep its current funding in the 2014-15 fiscal year. It would receive "no less than 95 percent" the next year, at least 90 percent the following year and at least 85 percent the next.

"It's our hope that enrollment will be back up by then," Leno said. "This will be a safety net."

In an unusual show of unity, college supporters who often disagree about how to help the school gathered in Mayor Ed Lee's office to hail the bill and to express hope that it will win the hefty two-thirds majority needed to pass in the Legislature.

"It's not about City College being popular," Lee said. "It's absolutely necessary for job skills, business, educational goals. You'll not find many people who haven't been touched by City College."

Lee, Leno and Tyler were joined by state community college officials and local school district representatives, as well as Robert Agrella - the state-appointed special trustee who replaced City College's elected Board of Trustees in July - and members of that sidelined board.

"It's no secret that the last several years have been rough for City College," said Rafael Mandelman, a trustee who has criticized the commission set to revoke City College's accreditation. "Tensions are high and tempers are short."

But, he said, "everyone agrees that City College must stay open." If the bill passes, Mandelman said, it would help City College "not just survive, but thrive."