Article - Office of College Advancement

Ohlone to offer fewer classes in fall

By Matthew Artz.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009—Reprinted from Inside Bay Area: The Argus.

Fremont—Ohlone College is bracing for potential layoffs and reductions in class offerings after learning that it stands to lose about $6 million in state funding under the governor's budget proposal.

The proposed cut would constitute about 13 percent of the school's $46 million budget.

The school likely would have to reduce staff to make up that shortfall, Ohlone President Gari Browning said. The school has no plans to lay off workers, she said, but that could change depending on the final budget that comes from Sacramento.

"Things change almost every minute," she said. "Nothing has settled down yet that we can do a budget with any kind of confidence."

The state's budget crisis and voters' rejection last week of five of six ballot measures were both blows to community colleges. They face both reductions in state funding and no guarantee that federal stimulus money will offset the losses.

With reduced state aid for its growing student body, Ohlone has had to scale back summer classes by 18 percent, and is preparing to reduce class offerings in the fall, Browning said.

While the school still is mandated to accept all high school graduates, it will be harder to guarantee that students can enroll in all the classes they want.

Continuing students, who register earlier for classes, will be less affected than new students, Browning said.

Ohlone plans to approve a budget next month that likely won't include layoffs, she said. But when the state passes its budget later this year, the school might have to make more cuts, including staff reductions.

Ohlone is preparing to use about half of its $5 million reserve fund to offset state cuts, Browning said.

A state mandate that 50 percent of funds go toward classroom instruction makes it harder to eliminate faculty jobs, she said. As a result, classified staff, counselors and librarians are at greater risk of losing their jobs if layoffs are required, she added.

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