Kristin M. Hollabaugh, Ph.D.
Provost, COS Hanford Educational Center
A couple of months ago, my 13 year old son said, "Mom, I NEED..." My 11 year old son quickly interrupted and said, "No, you don't NEED, you WANT...." At that point I was glad that someone had been paying attention to my lectures!
In the last couple of months, these conversations have become more and more to the front of my mind. As the State Budget continues to shrink, it has allowed those of us working at the 112 California community college to have frequent Want/Need discussions.
The discussions are not easy. In fact, they are downright difficult. California Community College Chancellor Jack Scott recently stated that our enrollment Statewide has dipped by about 500,000 students Statewide over the last three years because of declining State Revenues. Budgets to Community Colleges have dropped by 12% over the last three years.
You may ask why not raise tuition or decrease expenses to serve more students? The answer is: because the number of students for each college is set by the state system. Simply put, yes a college could take more students, the college, however, won't be paid for them which doesn't make good financial sense.
It is amazing to know that 55% of CSU students and 28% of UC students start their higher educational journey at a community college. Also, let's not forget that California community colleges are considered the #1 workforce institutions in the State.
November's vote could make things worse. Without the passage of the Governor Brown's initiative, there will be another 7 1/2% cut in enrollment statewide--more classes cut and more students denied.
So while it there are many discussions of wants and needs at local levels all over the State, the voters of California are going to have to determine if education and workforce training in the State is a want or a need? We've had a 12% cut in three years. What does an additional 7 1/2 % cut look like to those who are looking to continue their education? What does it hold not only for those returning to school to upgrade skills, but also those students who are part of the Graduating Class of 2013? How about the Graduating Class of 2015?
To hear Chancellor Scott's message, click here.