Review Shows City College in Dire Financial Straits
September 21st, 2012
By Jacqueline Foster, Editor
City College of San Francisco, a public community college in California that is in danger of losing its accreditation, was issued a review by the state’s Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team that outlined the full measure of the college’s financial shortfalls, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The lengthy report revealed that the college is on the verge of bankruptcy, and that one of the reasons for this was that the college employs significantly more faculty than other colleges its size and pays its faculty more than other colleges its size, while educating the same number of students, the article explained.
In addition, rather than slashing its budget to reflect recent losses in state funding, it continued to provide salary increases and benefits without allocating enough money to pay for its retirement obligations, the report showed. Another major problem identified in the review was that the college’s current budget is highly dependent on the passage of Proposition 30, a temporary sales and income tax initiative on California’s November ballot that would allow the state to generate more funds for community colleges if passed. The fiscal crisis team’s analysis showed that the college needed to have a contingency plan in case voters rejected the measure.
Even though the findings in the fiscal crisis team’s report revealed glaring financial problems at the college, the president of the college’s board of trustees said the report was a helpful tool filled with recommendations on how the college could get its finances under control by its accreditor’s deadline. The college has two big deadlines looming — the first being Oct. 15, by which it must submit a report to its accreditor detailing its action plan for correcting accreditation deficiencies, and the second being March 15, by which the college must have made the changes necessary to retain its accreditation, the article notes.
City College will likely have to make significant cuts to bring its budget under control. Larry Kamer, a spokesperson for City College, told the Chronicle that "the short-term cuts will be the most visible and painful." The author of the fiscal crisis team’s report urged trustees to act quickly in making the labor negotiations necessary to make changes to salary contracts, as one of the primary issues is that faculty salary and benefits are higher than at colleges of similar size. However, it remains to seen whether the unions will cooperate with a plan to slash salaries deeply in the midst of the college’s financial crisis, the article noted.
City College of San Francisco remains accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges as it struggles to make the changes necessary to maintain that accreditation. The college serves about 100,000 students each year at its nine campuses and various instructional sites. While best known for its campus-based associate degree and technical education programs, City College also offers distance education through online and hybrid courses, as well as through telecourses.