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September 26, 2022

Gavilan cuts 10% of classes

Dropping 45 spring offerings response to state cutbacks
Gavilan College eliminated 45 spring semester classes this week
as state financial support for community colleges appears headed
for a prolonged decline.
Dropping 45 spring offerings response to state cutbacks

Gavilan College eliminated 45 spring semester classes this week as state financial support for community colleges appears headed for a prolonged decline.

The 45 classes being cut are from a schedule that contained 75 fewer offerings than the spring of 2002.

The latest decision to erase the classes as well as cancel a three-week session between winter and spring semesters, however, is just the beginning of cost cutting that will involve everyone on campus, according to board of trustee president Laura Perry.

“We’re just getting ready for the storm. We expect it to be worse over the next two or three years,” Perry said.

Up to three weeks ago, interim president Marty Johnson said, college officials had planned to use $900,000 of a $3.4 million general fund reserve to get through the year that ends June 30. Digging into savings would have allowed the college to continue its present level of classes and services.

Expecting the state’s economic malaise to continue next year, Gavilan officials were ready to commit an equal amount of the reserve to tide the district over the year beginning July 1. By state orders, the district must keep $1.5 million for emergencies.

But now, with the prospect of a state budget shortfall — $30 billion this year alone — continuing for up to five years, Gavilan officials figured they would have to make their reserve funds stretch even further.

How they will do that will be determined in the coming months. What officials know for sure is that the elimination of the classes will save the school only $120,000.

Officials now must look beyond temporary deficit spending to survive the crisis, according to Johnson, who said campus officials had foreseen hard times.

“We had planned prudently and increased efficiency, but these mid-year cuts are very difficult to deal with,” Johnson said.

College trustees last summer approved a general fund budget of $17 million for the year, including the $900,000 from the reserve.

What Gavilan and other community colleges now face, Johnson said, is a 4.77 percent across-the-board cut in general fund money and a 3.66 percent reduction in “categorical” funding, money earmarked for specific items such as the Extended Opportunity Program and Services for disadvantaged students.

“We’re probably in better shape than many other districts because of our reserve,” Johnson said.

Incoming college President Steve Kinsella already is involved in budget discussions. Kinsella, dean of business services at Gavilan four years ago, currently is interim president of Mission Community College in Santa Clara. He returns officially to Gavilan on Jan. 1.

The topic of broader and deeper budget cuts will be taken up next month. Everyone – administrators, faculty and students – will be invited to participate. No area – instruction, maintenance or services such as tutoring or counseling – apparently is considered sacred.

“Personally, I want to make cuts that do the least damage to students. But we can’t make decisions until we lay everything on the table,” Perry said.

Perry, a 10-year board of trustee veteran, recalled that the college faced a similar situation in the mid-1990s. The reason at that time, she said, was state “borrowing” that was never paid back.

“We cut classes, instituted a hiring freeze and made layoffs,” Perry said.

Johnson said the district is committed to no layoffs this time if possible.

Gavilan, with a student body of almost 6,000, has seen enrollment increase 11 percent since this time last year.

The 45 sections eliminated this week represent about 10 percent the college’s total offerings and were made across the board, including English, English as a second language, physical education, fine arts, social and natural sciences and technical and public services.

“Efforts were made not to cut classes required for graduation or for which there are no alternates,” campus spokeswoman Jan Bernstein Chargin said. If students already have signed up for classes that were eliminated, they will be notified that they must choose another, she said.

“No program has been eliminated. There are just fewer options,” Bernstein Chargin said. “As for other cuts, the conversation is just starting. They will take a look at everything.”

Information: Students who want to know what spring semester classes have been eliminated may visit one of the three college campuses or check online at www.gavilan.edu.

Staff Report
A staff member edited this provided article.

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