Ohlone College President Dr. Gari Browning delivers State of College address - Article, Office of College Advancement

Submitted by Ohlone College.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012—Reprinted from Tri-City Voice.

Dr. Gari Browning speaking.Ohlone College President Dr. Gari Browning.

Dr. Gari Browning delivered her annual State of the College address on Friday, August 24 to a packed house of faculty, students, and trustees including a webcast to the Newark campus. An important focus of the speech was on the statewide cuts to community college budgets and how those cuts have affected Ohlone's ability to offer classes to students. Browning emphasized that community colleges do not control their student enrollment, the fees they charge or their operating budget.

"CSU and UC set their own student fees and can raise these fees to make up for [budget] shortages. For community colleges, the number of students served and the amount of fees charged to students are established by the State," said Browning.

As the state's budget woes have increased over the past four years, the state has reduced funding to the community college system statewide. Each community college, including Ohlone, has received less funding year to year and has been told to reduce the number of classes offered and serve fewer students.

These budget cuts have forced Ohlone to reduce enrollment from 19,532 students in the 2008-2009 school year to 14,833 by the 2011-2012 school year, approximately a 24 percent reduction in its student population. Ohlone has managed to maintain a balanced budget without dipping into reserves until this past year, but is now cutting into reserve funds to balance the budget.

A proposition on the November 2012 ballot, Proposition 30, will provide some funding assistance to California Community Colleges. If passed, Prop 30 will restore a small amount of enrollment, allowing 20 more class sections to be added at Ohlone. This does not come close to restoring the college to former enrollment numbers.

The most significant advantage of Prop 30 is that it will stop further funding cuts to Ohlone's budget and to the budgets of all community colleges statewide. If Prop 30 fails, in January another budget cut will come down from the state resulting in a large drop in the number of students served at Ohlone, from 14,833 down to 13,333, and a 7.3 percent cut to our budget.

A competing proposition, Prop 38 is an income tax that will direct funding only to the K-12 system but will not include community colleges in the additional funding, whereas Proposition 30 is comprehensive - the funding will include K-12 and public safety services such as police and fire. If Prop 38 passes it can cause Prop 30 to fail, even if Prop 30 gets more than 51 percent of the vote. If Prop 38 receives more votes than Prop 30 community college budgets will be cut, resulting in more students losing seats in community college classrooms.

Despite budget woes, Ohlone has a number of ventures that are self-sustaining and revenue generating. In addition, the college is saving money through solar power energy production. And Ohlone is once again exploring the option of developing its frontage property along Mission Boulevard as a means of long-term revenue creation. These and other cost-saving ideas are being applied to help the college through difficult fiscal times. However, if Proposition 30 fails to be approved by voters, the college will need to consider more drastic budget reduction options. The college continues to work at becoming less dependent on the fluctuations of state funding to serve students in our community.

To read the full transcript of the President's speech or to view the video archive, please visit www.ohlone.edu/president.

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