Written by Donald A. Promnitz
A new funding mechanism for California’s community colleges may prove to be beneficial to students in the Central Valley.
The changes, spurred by California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley and approved in the state’s budget, will prioritize funding to schools with high numbers of students who are economically disadvantaged, along with schools that have higher graduation rates and academic performance.
Professors from several colleges have protested the new measure, with some giving votes of no confidence for Oakley. The State Center Community College District (SCCCD), however, could be on the receiving end of these allocated funds.
“I think it might be too much change too fast, with not enough communication,” Fresno City College President Carole Goldsmith said of the controversy. “But we’re strong, and I think it’s going to help the Valley.”
The new funding system would be phased in over the course of three years, with 60 percent of funding based on the traditional funding metric. 20 percent based on the number of low-income students and the rest on student success.
According to SCCCD Trustee Miguel Arias, unlike much of California, SCCCD has seen an increase in enrollment district-wide. Last year, Fresno City College saw 3-percent growth, while Clovis Community College’s enrollment went up 9 percent. Many of these new students are also working.
“Historically speaking, community colleges were — the majority of them — full-time students and working part time,” Arias said. “Now it’s reversed.”
SCCCD schools are also seeing high performance rates, including an increase in excess of 2,000 more graduates from the previous year. Goldsmith added that they have had marked success with their workforce preparation courses. These include (but are not limited to) lab technician classes, nursing and the Fire Academy. These programs could expect more funding.
“I’m confident that the Valley colleges will see the funding that we’ve been fighting for years,” Goldsmith said.