Article - Office of College Advancement

Ohlone lauds state bill's passage

Legislation levels playing field for community college districts: Size not a factor in funding

By Angela Woodall, Staff writer.

Monday, October 9, 2006—Reprinted from Inside Bay Area: The Argus.

Fremont—After three years of bad news, community colleges and students had reason to celebrate Thursday.

The good news came when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed off on legislation to fund California community college districts equally regardless of their size.

Community college students also can expect lower enrollment fees thanks to state Senate Bill 361. The bill will reduce community college fees from $26 per unit to $20 beginning in the spring semester.

Known as the Community Colleges Funding Formula Reform, the bill allocates equal funding throughout the state's 72 community college districts.

"The bill is good for Ohlone," Chief Business Officer Deanna Walston said.

The new framework puts the district on equal footing with large, wealthy districts that rely less on state money than on tuition and high property taxes, Walston said.

"Now, everyone gets the same amount," she said.

Ohlone will receive $4,367 per full-time student—the number of whom jumped this semester to 3,300, a 10.6 percent increase over the previous fall semester, said Ron Travenick, director of enrollment and admissions. This time last year, the count was 2,971 for full-time students.

The increase was a boon to the college, which had suffered through years of low enrollment.

The Chabot-Las Positas district also will see an additional $3.1 million in equalization funding from the bill, which will be spread throughout the district's office, two campuses, and its maintenance and operations departments.

Whereas Ohlone officials reacted cautiously to the drop in per-unit fees, Chabot officials said they expect to see an overall increase in enrollment with the lower fees.

In contrast, they said, the college experienced an enrollment decline when fees jumped from $18 per unit to $26 last year.

Staff writer Angela Woodall covers Newark and Ohlone College. She can be reached at (510) 353-7004 or at awoodall@angnewspapers.com.

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