Thursday, June 30 , 2016, 9:57 pm | Fair 63º

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Policy Limits College Students Repeating Arts, P.E., Computer Courses

SBCC and Allan Hancock College prepare for pending changes under a new statewide cost-cutting measure

Local community-college students looking to repeat certain art, dance, computer or physical education classes should sign up before fall 2013, when that option will no longer be available.

The days of being able to retake those introductory courses up to three times — four total — will end after the summer 2013 session as part of a new cost-saving measure handed down by the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office.

Officials at Santa Barbara City College, Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria and others are responding to the pending changes by coming up with new enrollment plans, some of which include developing course sequences to fill the need.

The change would affect about 40 courses and a number of students at SBCC who are repeating arts, physical education and computer science courses to develop a deeper skills set, according to Jack Friedlander, executive vice president of education programs.

“As a result of the budget crisis that has taken place at the state level and making cuts for community colleges, it’s resulting in students not being able to get the classes that they needed,” Friedlander told Noozhawk. “The state is saying how can we better use the resources we have; that we’re given to support student enrollment to community colleges? Now you can’t take introductory drawing a second time, which means that seat is open for a student who has never taken the course.”

Community colleges were aware a change was coming last summer, he said, but the state Department of Finance just finalized regulations and some criteria this month.

Friedlander said different introductory, intermediate and advanced “course families” will be developed into the spring, at which time students will be back from winter break and be given more solid enrollment information from their advisers.

“It’ll affect a lot of students,” he said. “A lot of our students are in the arts and physical education.”

At Hancock, officials are still working out the details of how many students and courses might be affected.

“We have a group of key players working on an implementation process,” Hancock spokeswoman Rebecca Alarcio said. “We are expecting to receive guidelines in the next couple of months and expect implementation in fall 2013.”

The changes have Hancock’s dance department bracing for adverse effects, according to dance instructor Monique Segura.

She said students often take an introductory tap or ballet course two or three times until they feel comfortable enough to progress to the next class.

“We’ve worked really hard to make students aware of it because it affects our department so drastically and dramatically,” Segura said. “Many times we have dance students who have never taken a class in their life. To really master a particular art form, you need to continue practicing it.”

Many instructors and students have written letters to state officials with their concerns, said Segura, adding that her introductory courses are varied each semester depending on her students’ skill levels.

“It disappoints me that fine arts keeps our kids in school and that’s the area they won’t allow you to take more than once,” she said. “The students are very concerned.”

The new repeatability policy will have exemptions for certain cases, however, Friedlander said.

Students on athletic teams or arts students who are required to be enrolled in a certain class every semester to transfer on to a four-year university would not be affected, he said.

The Chancellor’s Office requires the records of exempt students to reflect the grade a student receives each semester.

Fortunately, Friedlander said, with the passage of Proposition 30, colleges will already be able to add classes in the spring semester.

More than 90 classes will return to the SBCC course list next semester, he said, which he expected would cushion the loss for some students.

“It’ll really hit next year,” he said. “I think, at the end of the day, it would be good for students to help (them) progress. Students will have a much better selection moving forward.”

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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