While President Joe Biden made a plan this week to offer federal funding to community colleges, that promise is far from being fulfilled.
San Francisco City College, meanwhile, is seeking much more immediate financial aid from The City to help prevent massive layoffs.
The college filed a $ 15 million application last week that will support nearly 800 classes as of the fall, the examiner has learned. Nearly 200 employees are being laid off to make up a budget deficit of $ 33 million for the coming academic year that would have a significant impact on class supply and the prospect of a government takeover if the college fails to balance its books.
The demand on city officials to prevent cuts in the CCSF comes even when the prospect of federal aid emerges. This week, Biden proposed laws that would free up the community college and promote Pell Grants for students, among other investments in education.
CCSF is still analyzing the impact of this legislation, but it would not become a reality for a long time, said Shanell Williams, president of the board of trustees.
“It’s great to hear the federal government’s intent,” said Williams. “We need things that we can bring to the bank now. If you can’t pay your bills, the state will take over and we are very close. “
San Francisco has a Free City College program, first approved by regulators in 2017, to make up for enrollments lost during a previous accreditation crisis. However, according to official figures, more federal funding would contribute to its financial stability.
In early April, the accountants sent a letter to the California Community College Chancellery warning them that if the CCSF was to remain independent, it would need to be quick to respond to its budget. The auditors called the school’s financial situation “currently unsustainable” because it had not reduced costs significantly, as enrollment had declined by 35 percent over the past eight years and reserves were tapped instead.
Williams, a student activist during the five-year accreditation crisis that ended in 2017, said there were long-standing structural management issues that officials will eventually look into as they face wider enrollment impacts from the pandemic.
“We worked really hard to make sure our college was financially sound,” said trustee Alan Wong. “The [city] Money would be used to invest in City College in the future to make sure we have the courses to attract future enrollments. Education is underfunded in California and across the state. “
CCSF accepted more than $ 25 million in state and federal COVID-19 emergency funding last year and will receive approximately $ 28 million from federal incentives passed earlier this year. Funds were used for technology, protective equipment, direct student aid, and other pandemic-related costs.
Supervisor Gordon Mar’s office has requested that laws be drafted to provide additional funding, but details are still being worked out. Li Mao Lovett, an aide from Mar, meanwhile, praised the CCSF’s detailed plan to upgrade services through a labor re-education fund passed last fall.
The fund, known as WERF, uses half of the money for training workers, a quarter for courses on social justice and enrichment, and a quarter for student services such as registration assistance. CCSF prioritized programs include nursing, architectural and construction management, health education, child development, and economics.
Supervisor Hillary Ronen said earlier this week that during a press conference with the faculty union, the American Federation of Teachers 2121, she would be working to raise city funds to help save the CCSF nursing program.
However, the support from other superiors is uncertain. Board chairman Shamann Walton, who has often supported additional city funding for CCSF, said he could not offer additional funding without assuring that $ 30 million will be invested in the construction of a new community facility in the city, as promised, from 2020, as promised 1550 Evans Street.
According to Walton, the CCSF claims they cannot legally sign a long-term lease and that the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission must transfer ownership to the college in order to take advantage of the bonds.
“I’m not going to help them get millions of dollars from the city and county of San Francisco if they tear down the Southeast Sector,” Walton told the examiner. “We all fought for this bond, promises were made. It’s like they’re trying to blackmail The City for the property. “
Williams said they were told they could not legally use the loan money on the facility without reassurance that CCSF would be a permanent renter. That could be done either with land transfer or with a long-term lease, she said.
CCSF is committed to building the facility and is hoping to solve the problem, Williams added. Without an agreement, it will be difficult to get enough regulatory support – led by Walton – to approve the additional funding.
“We kind of stalled,” Lovett said. “We are waiting for these important political discussions to take place.”
AFT2121 was not involved in drafting the proposal, but President Mailaika Finkelstein said the classes proposed for funding were similar to those identified by the union. Where they differ is the cost; According to Finkelstein, it will need $ 30 million this year and $ 40 million annually.
“We need something to happen, whether it is that or something else,” said Finkelstein. “The national conversation is about expanding access to education. It would be terrible if San Francisco were to pull in the opposite direction. “
The Board of Trustees will vote on changes to staffing and teaching in May.
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