For decades, students young and old have sought personal-enrichment and learning through a wide variety of continuing-education classes at Santa Barbara City College.
But now, with SBCC and other community colleges throughout California facing intense budgetary pressures, that enrichment is coming at a much higher price.
Under a new program being rolled out by college officials, continuing-education classes that formerly were tuition-free or charged nominal fees will soon cost considerably more.
Continuing education classes cover a wide range of subjects, including arts, crafts, fitness, finance, gardening, health, humanities, language, literature, technology, and on and on.
Classes meet at SBCC’s Wake Center and Schott Center in Santa Barbara, and other locations throughout the area.
After 12 months of discussion and planning, the college has announced its new Center for Lifelong Learning (CLL), which will operate without state funding.
The program was outlined for the community last month in a series of forums.
During one of the gatherings, Cathie Smith, president of the Art Association of Santa Barbara, explained how the state has ended funding for personal-enrichment courses at SBCC.
“We are losing money every week from the state,” Smith said.
Jack Friedlander, vice president of SBCC, said the college hopes to maintain low fees for the CLL classes.
“In terms of keeping the costs low, having these courses at the college facilities diminishes costs of staff, equipment, and facility use which are incurred anyway for state supported classes,” Friedlander said. “In terms of instructor salaries, we are probably looking at a revenue-share model where instructors will receive a 50/50 split. This will keep our overhead low which will enable us to keep our costs low.”
On Nov. 8, the college’s Board of Trustees was asked by SBCC President Lori Gaskin to approve hiring an executive director for the CLL. This position is expected to be filled by late December if approved.
Response to the change has been mixed.
“The shock is the lack of funding from the state and a class that was $15 is now $115,” said Shirley Morrison, an adult-education student, who attended one of the forums.
“I always wanted to take a number of classes, but worked during the day and was too tired in the evenings,” Morrison said. “So, I was very glad that after I retired that the classes were available to me. I hope that the classes continue.”
She has signed up for a quilting class for the spring semester despite the rise in cost.
The forums were held to share the direction and progress of the CLL and seek input on the types of course offerings that the community wants and will support.
Friedlander, expressed his goal to keep the personal-enrichment courses attractive to community members, asking those in attendance to brainstorm about the kinds of classes that would likely be in demand.
“The purpose of today’s session is to ask, who would take these classes?” Friedlander said. “We desperately need community support on all levels.”
The center will offer the community non-credit, self-supporting classes and seminars primarily in the advancement areas. Some of the classes that will be offered are; quilting, dance, retirement planning, beginning computer skills, photography, bow making, and much more.
Richard Saffold, a bow-making instructor of one year for the CLL, shared his desire to contribute to a well-rounded curriculum.
“Now everything is getting cutback. It’s important have classes to offer that people want to pay for. I like watching their [students] eyes light up when they first shoot their bow,” Saffold said of his favorite part of teaching the community. “Just seeing students who have never shot a bow, and always wanted to do it, there so much anticipation.”
“I feel that if we do the right thing for the community, they [community] will support the college,” Friedlander said.
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