The success — or failure — of Santa Barbara City College’s new Center for Lifelong Learning depends on its instructors, according to Andrew Harper, director of the latest non-credit extension.

Harper presented the center’s first estimated budgets for the next three academic years in less than 10 minutes at a SBCC Board of Trustees meeting Thursday afternoon.

“Success depends on enrollment,” Harper told the board. “The success of the class depends on the instructor.”

The CLL’s revenue will come only from tuition fees because it is independent and will not be funded by the state. This means that the more students, the more money, and vice versa.

A quarter of the revenue goes to pay the classified staff and administrators — a fixed cost. Half of the revenues goes to instructors’ salaries, the only variable cost, which means the more students and the higher fee the teacher charges, the more he or she gets paid — with a cap at $75 per hour. It’s just a question of finding the right balance, since higher costs will naturally drive down the amount of students.

“The calculator has already been given to the instructors so they can figure it out for themselves how much they would need to charge,” Harper said. “We’re confident that the revenue sharing will galvanize our instructors into not only creating great classes but teaching great classes.”

Based on the uncertainty of how the center will do with this new way of running it, and different from how its parental institution is managed, there were two budgets for academic year 2013-14 presented — one based on an opportunistic scenario, and the second on a more conservative scenario.

Depending on the number of students, in the best-case scenario the center estimates to profit nearly $105,000, but lose $7,435 under the non-successful scenario based on a 20 percent lower enrollment. These numbers are based on an average hourly tuition of $5 per student.

“This budget is a little different from City College’s budget,” Harper said, opening up the presentation.

Not only is the new center investing in its instructors by offering them “professional development,” but it’s also launching an “aggressive marketing plan” by cooperating with the public relations agency SurfMedia Communications, Harper said.

The CLL started holding lecture series a month ago, hoping to inform the community about its classes’ importance, inviting mavens such as USC research professor Jeffrey Cole, former adviser to White House officials, to speak about the importance to keep learning as our environment changes.

“If something does go wrong … we will not be using any general fund money,” Harper said. “We still have some trust fund money, which we’ll be able to use.”

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