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SBCC President Spells Out Changes for Continuing Ed Program
SBCC leaders outlined their vision for the school’s Continuing Education program Thursday night, including a plan they say will make the program sustainable as well as give it the freedom to better serve adult students.
Newly appointed Superintendent/President Lori Gaskin briefed about 75 people, mostly older adults, at the Wake Center about what to expect next year as the college gears up to switch its fee-based non-credit classes to the auspices of a nascent Center for Lifelong Learning.
By shifting those courses from state funding, the college can lose the rules that came with that money in the past, and cab be more flexible in areas such as class sizes and course offerings.
Gaskin, although cordial, took a straightforward approach with the audience. She said the transition won’t be without some pain, and 15 Continuing Ed positions will be cut.
“We believe that’s necessary to create a more sustainable, fiscally viable college into the future,” said Gaskin, adding that those numbers don’t include only administrative and support staff, not teachers.
Thursday’s discussion on Continuing Ed comes at a dire time for the rest of the students the college serves.
SBCC’s wait list for credit classes is up to 2,784 requests as of the first week of school, and Gaskin said students are struggling to get into basic math and science classes they need to progress in their courses of study because classes are in such high demand. She said those core classes must be the college’s primary emphasis.
Gaskin outlined the journey the college has taken to get to this point, tracing back to the state’s decision to move funding toward classes that help students progress to college or career and away from enrichment classes.
“This is not something that we devised; this is in response to some pretty intense scrutiny statewide,” she said, adding that the scrutiny extends into credit as well. By moving non-credit classes to fee based under the auspices of the Center for Lifelong Learning, adult ed will “be enriched and enlivened.”
In spite of rumors, she said, “we are not dismantling CE at all.”
Gaskin said SBCC is behind the curve, as other community colleges have already made the transition to fee-based adult ed classes.
Vice President Jack Friedlander, who served as interim superintendent before Gaskin’s appointment, said the goal for the CLL will be to keep overhead and fees for students as low as possible.
“I see our course catalog being very large and very dynamic,” he said. “The idea is to take any excess revenue and invest it back into the center.”
Friedlander said the college is beginning huge community outreach and hopes to open the center in fall 2013.
The Board of Trustees must approve the reorganization, and then an executive director for the CLL will be hired as well as a fundraising position. Gaskin said there is some seed money to bring that director on now “to really get the nuts and bolts now,” but that over time, the position will have to be self-sustaining.
“What happens if you can’t (establish the Center for Lifelong Learning)? Does non-credit go away?” one woman asked.
Gaskin said that because revenues continue to be lower than expenses, she and the board would “really have talk that through” to decide where to go next.
Friedlander said the idea has been generating a lot of excitement and that he doesn’t anticipate resistance.
“This is a passion of mine to make this work,” he said. “At the end of the day, people pay for everything — the movies, opera, dinner. The question is, are they willing to make an investment in their education?”
Two other presentations will be held on the reorganization. The next one will be from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, with bilingual translation in Spanish, in the Tannahill Auditorium of the Alice F. Schott Center, 310 W. Padre St. in Santa Barbara. Another will be held from 10 to 11 a.m. Thursday in Room 31 of the Schott Center.
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