SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE. JANUARY 22, 2013. If City College of San Francisco has to shut down next fall, its leaders would help students transfer to other colleges, store their transcripts in a safe place, and grant name-brand degrees and certificates to students who have completed 75 percent of their program.
That's according to a draft version of the "closure report" that City College is required to prepare in case it loses accreditation in June.
Hundreds of faculty and staff members would lose their jobs. The college would help them "in good faith" to find new employment, but with no guarantees of success.
According to the report, each employee will be notified of possible unemployment by March 15, a legal deadline that falls on the same deadline for City College to submit its closure report to the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges. (That's also when it must provide a separate report showing why it should remain accredited.)
"The closure report is contingency planning. We're talking about things we hope never come to fruition, but which we're required to think through," said Larry Kamer, spokesman for Chancellor Thelma Scott-Skillman, who wrote the closure report but couldn't be reached for comment on Monday's holiday.
While the troubled college must create the just-in-case scenario - symbolically the most distasteful piece of its effort to improve finances and governance to satisfy accreditation standards - City College is today "fully accredited, and its credits are fully transferable," said Bob Agrella, the state-appointed trustee overseeing the process.
"That's a point many students and people in the community don't understand," Agrella said. Even if the college loses accreditation, "those credits do not go away."
Agrella said three possible scenarios await City College when the accrediting commission meets in June: closure, probation or full accreditation.
"I don't think (full accreditation) is likely because we will have not completed everything that's required," Agrella said.
The college has accomplished much since learning in July that it teetered on the edge. It's transformed instruction, completed a technology plan and adopted a new mission statement, among other things. But administrators still haven't calculated the cost of all nine campuses nor locked in labor contracts. And they remain uncertain around hiring and financial planning.
Probation would buy time if the accrediting commission agrees CCSF has made substantial progress, Agrella said. If not, the closure report would point to what happens next.
The draft is just 14 pages, "a skeletal report" that is not likely to offer many more details in final form, Agrella said.
But it says the college would help its more than 40,000 students pursuing college credit or vocational certificates to find new programs. There are no plans to help the college's other 40,000 students, who take free, noncredit classes, ranging from fun memoir writing courses to helpful vocational offerings such as fashion design and computer skills.
Those who have completed 75 percent of their program - three out of four semesters - could potentially stay on at City College to complete their work "if the college gained permission" from the accrediting commission, Agrella said. "They would not take on new students, but work with those students to either get their degree from City College or find another program for them."
Also in the draft report is one line referring to "alternatives to closing (merging, forming consortiums, institutional sharing/corporation.)"
The report doesn't elaborate, but "I know it's under strong consideration that we attempt to merge or in some form be subsumed under another college," said Joshua Beisiegel, a business major and vice president of the Associated Students Council, who has been involved.
"I think it's unlikely that we'd actually close, but we'd work out some sort of arrangement with a neighboring college," Beisiegel said.
Not all neighboring college districts are on firm footing, however, including those named as possible transfer sites for City College students.
The East Bay's Peralta College District - with Berkeley City College, College of Alameda, Merritt College and Laney College - is "on warning" from the accrediting commission. And at the two-college San Jose/Evergreen District, one college is on warning, while the other is on probation.
Being "on warning" or on probation are just short of City College's dire "show cause" status, in which it must prove it should retain accreditation.
Faculty 'very concerned'
Meanwhile, faculty are "very concerned" about the possibility of closure.
"We have definitely made a lot of progress, but we have a lot of progress still to make," said Karen Saginor, the chair of the Academic Senate who serves on the college's Accreditation Steering Committee.
"Faculty have been nervous about this since July," Saginor said. "We're still nervous."