The District Board of Trustees has unanimously adopted a 2013-14 budget which will allow College of the Canyons to serve more students by restoring access to desperately needed academic classes and career technical training opportunities.
The district’s total budget for the 2013-14 academic year is approximately $185 million, representing an increase of roughly $3.5 million from 2012-13.
Of that amount, about $88 million will go to the college’s unrestricted general fund, which is traditionally used for instructional program costs, course supplies and materials, staff and faculty salaries, and other day-to-day operational costs and expenses.
By comparison, the college’s 2012-13 budget general fund included just over $82 million.
The college’s 2013-14 budget numbers have been bolstered by local voters’ passage of Proposition 30 last November, which is beginning to help restore California Community College funding to pre-recession levels after years of budget cuts handed down by the state.
While 2013-14 California Community College revenues are still below 2008-09 markers, the combination of partially restored funding levels and the low potential for the state to enact additional spending cuts will allow many campuses to begin expanding their services to serve more students.
“The state’s decision to increase funding for community colleges recognizes the pivotal role that we play in growing California’s economy,” said COC Chancellor Dr. Dianne Van Hook. “Our funding levels are not where they were five years ago, but we are moving in the right direction, and able to restore access to higher education as a result.”
Despite the state’s recent economic climate, the college has continued to provide students with a high level of support services.
“We opted not to eliminate critical services like counseling, tutoring and disabled student services while absorbing more than $3.5 million in categorical funding cuts handed down by the state,” said Assistant Superintendent/Vice President of Business Services Sharlene Coleal. “College of the Canyons has also been able to avoid enacting pay cuts, furlough days, and faculty and staff layoffs which adversely impact our students’ success.”
While College of the Canyons receives the majority of its revenue from state sources, the college pursues other funding through public and private grants, partnership agreements, and fund-raising through the College of the Canyons Foundation.
“We pride ourselves on being an innovative and entrepreneurial college,” Dr. Van Hook said. “Even with the fiscal challenges we faced in recent years, we continued to push forward and find creative ways to better serve our community. Frankly, that’s when we’re needed most, and we want Santa Clarita to know they can count on us.”
The college’s budget has also been supplemented by revenues generated by the COC Civic Center, which handles all of the campus’ filming and community usage requests, and other campus facility rental and partnership agreements associated with the Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook University Center.
Locally, this increased funding will allow College of the Canyons to serve roughly 1,000 additional full time equivalent students (FTES) this academic year, while also maintaining the budget flexibility to schedule additional class sections based on student need and demand.
The student benefits of this restored funding are already being experienced at COC, with college officials recently expanding the summer and fall 2013 schedule of classes to include a number of ‘late start’ courses. Fall semester late start classes will be offered at the Valencia and Canyon Country campus and online, with start dates throughout October.
The college is also planning to offer an augmented winter session and spring 2014 schedule of classes, providing students with even more class sections and educational opportunities to choose from.
Continuing its reputation as a fiscally responsible community college district and governing board, the college’s 2013-14 budget also includes an approximately11.24 percent ending fund balance reserve of roughly $8.9 million.
As a result, the Santa Clarita Community College District is included among the 83 percent of California Community College districts that have been able to maintain a double-digit fund balance in the face of decreased state funding.
In fact, College of the Canyons consistently maintains a team of full-time faculty members that exceeds the minimum community college staffing requirements, as handed down by the state Chancellor’s office.
The district’s historically strong fund balance has allowed the college to avoid invasive cuts to academic and athletic programs, while maintaining funding for ongoing operational costs including campus facilities maintenance and the employment of college faculty and support staff.