Last week, Governor Brown signed a new $108 Billion State Budget that should be viewed as being generally favorable to the needs of California Community Colleges. While the Community College System budget still has not recovered to pre-economic crisis levels, the new State Budget contains substantial improvements meant to ensure that colleges can better serve our communities and students.
The largest portions of the State Community College Budget, funds for apportionment, have no real effect on Cañada College. We are part of a community supported college district, and as such, we rely on County-level funding rather than State-level funding. Among the benefits of being “Community Supported” is that the college actually receives greater per-student funding than if we relied on state funding for apportionment. Our County-based funding process is still tied to enrollment at each of the SMCCCD colleges, but the system affords us resources that would not otherwise be available if we were singularly tied to state enrollment funding.
Nevertheless, there are areas and programs in which the college is still very much dependent on state funding. These areas are generally in Student Services and Support. The new State Budget provides continued support for our many “categorical” service programs. Statewide, DSPS was funded $114,223,000; EOPS was funded $88,605,000; Economic Workforce Development was funded $50,000,000; Part Time Faculty Compensation budget was funded $24,907,000; and Part Time Faculty Office Hour budget was funded $3,500,000. Each of these budget lines has an actual, or potential, positive effect on Cañada’s bottom line. In addition, the State authorized new expenditures under the Student Success and Support Program of some $70,000,000.
This is all good news and comes in the wake of discussions the college community held in the last month of the Spring Semester in which we examined the effects of the loss of Measure G funding to college operations. This community supported parcel tax is set to end at the end of this month. The loss in operating funds to the college will be approximately $2.3 Million annually. In April and May, the members of the Planning and Budget Committee, along with some 40 campus faculty and staff representing Instructional and Student Services programs, met to examine options and make recommendations of what the college might do in terms of addressing the loss of Measure G funding, as well as to discuss use prioritization of additional funds, including “One-Time Funds” available through County funding mechanisms, and Grant funds.
Those involved in the review process took a rather courageous course as they set aside their own interests in search of answers to how we can continue to best serve our students with fewer resources. The number one priority for the group was to preserve instruction as much as possible. Also at the top of the priority list were programs meant to improve student success. Several programs, some funded through Measure G, others funded with "One-Time-Funds" or General Fund resources, received less significant support from the group. While their importance was recognized, their urgency in promoting student success was considered measurably less. The prioritization list was forwarded to me, as President, for review and consideration in developing the final college expenditure plan for 2014-2015.
I have carefully considered the recommendations and understand the values behind them, and I share those values. It is important for us to redouble our commitment to the mission of serving this community in a manner that ensures it has the programs and services necessary to provide the transfer and workforce development tools for our students to meet their goals. So, it was with an eye to stretch and utilize every dollar available to us to meet the financial needs of our programs that guided me in developing the final expenditure plan.
Fortunately, our advanced, effective planning over the past few years has put us in a better position to address our financial challenges than we might otherwise have been. So, as we are about to close the books on fiscal 2013-2014, and now that we have a fuller understanding of our funding stream, given the Governor's Budget and the County's own financial assessment, I want to share with you some of the expenditure priorities I am employing for the new academic year.
The fact is that our resources are a bit stronger than predicted two or three months ago. We are finishing the year with an Ending Fund Balance of well over $500,000. We have some $1.1 Million in unspent Measure G Reserves, we are receiving a "final payout" of Measure G funds of more than $200,000 at the end of this month, and local property tax receipts are greater than expected allowing the District to provide a substantial "backfill" to Measure G lost revenues of perhaps as much as $500,000. Thus, while I continue to believe it prudent to temper our spending, I am also conscious of not "over-reacting" with unnecessary reductions that might adversely affect student success.
Keeping within the priorities and values provided by the PBC, I am budgeting small reductions in instructional costs which will be realized by eliminating heavily under-enrolled sections; reducing operating costs in CIETL; defunding the Trustee's Project Fund; eliminating the Grants Development Office; employing small operational reductions in Library services; slightly reducing the funding of peer mentorship programs; eliminating some General Fund and Measure G funding in Workforce Development; shifting some counseling funds to resources available with the new Student Success and Support Program; shifting Veteran's Center funds permanently to the General Fund; and shifting some Measure G supported Financial Aid services to the General Fund.
In consultation with Chief Business Officer, Vickie Nunes, we estimate that these reductions and shifted resource allocations will result in a reduction of about $600,000 from funds currently tied to Measure G. These reductions, along with the resources we have identified to carry us through the coming year, and with further time to analyze and plan in 2014-2015, give me confidence that the college can survive the loss of Measure G funds with a robust budget that allows us to effectively serve our students.
My thanks to everyone who participated in the expenditure prioritization process: Your patience, professionalism, and dedication, are what makes Cañada College such a special place.