Article - Office of College Advancement

Community colleges face cramming woes

By David Goll.

Friday, August 21, 2009—Reprinted from Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal [full article].

A surge in corporate job slashing and cuts at state schools is straining the state’s 110-campus community college system.

The local districts are being squeezed between a historic mission to accept all comers and the fiscal realities of budgets that are nonetheless being cut.

That threatens a system that educates 2.8 million students a year, is considered the nation’s largest institution of higher education and is a major work force generator for California employers.

Community college students statewide will have their tuition costs hiked from $20 per unit to $26. But for the extra money, they will have fewer classes to choose from.

That's because community colleges ahve cut costs by reducing course sections, unlike the University of California's 10 campuses and 23-campus California State University system, which have dealt with this year's budget cuts in part by slashing enrollment - including 3,000 this fall at San Jose State.

Ron Travenick, vice president for student development in the Ohlone Community College District, yearns for the good old days of a few years ago.

"Three or four years ago, if I had a demand for classes, I could build them," he said.

His district has about 7,000 students at its Fremont and Newark campuses.

About 120 course sections will have to be dropped from the fall schedule, he said. As in other districts, Travenick said his focus will be on filling remaining classes to capacity to make the best use of scarce dollars.

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