May 18, 2004
INFORMATION: John McElwain or John Green, (661) 362-3494 or 3684
Board Supports Equalization Funding for Community Colleges
SANTA CLARITA The College of the Canyons Board of Trustees has voted to support legislation that would correct the states funding formula for community colleges by equalizing the funding level for Californias community colleges.
The board voted unanimously May 12 to support legislation by state Sen. Dede Alpert (D-San Diego) that would level the playing field by equalizing per-student funding for all of Californias community colleges over the next three years.
SB 1875 is supported by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who attended Santa Monica City College and has emerged as a strong supporter of Californias community colleges, which have long suffered under a formula characterized by a wide disparity in funding.
The highest-funded college district receives more than $8,000 per full-time-equivalent (FTE) student, while the lowest-funded district receives less than $3,600. College of the Canyons receives approximately $3,700 per FTE student.
The disparity means that large districts such as the Los Angeles Community College District receive a disproportionately large piece of the funding pie, while smaller districts must make do with whats left, often resulting in reduced services.
The existing funding formula forces smaller districts to provide significantly less access to classes, tutors, full-time instructors, lab technicians, math and writing centers, basic skills classes, counselors, and other instructional programs and resources.
The disparity becomes even more acute in lean budget years, when higher-funded districts receive a smaller cut per student and lower-funded districts must absorb a larger cut per student. The difference between the 15 highest-funded districts and the 15 lowest-funded districts has consistently been more than $1,200 per student.
The current funding formula really makes no sense, said Dr. Barry Gribbons, the colleges executive dean of institutional development and technology. All community colleges in California are required to comply with the same mandates. We all have to pay the same rates to retirement systems and workers compensation, for example, but the resources to meet these and other state requirements vary widely from one district to another. Instead of penalizing college districts and restricting student access, we should equalize the funding and treat all community colleges and their students fairly.
Funding all community college programs and services on a per-student basis would reduce the disparity in funding, increase equal access to education and boost the potential for student success throughout California, the board noted in its resolution.
Californias community colleges represent the largest system of higher education in the world, with 109 colleges and 72 districts providing educational, vocational and transfer programs to more than 2.8 million students each year.