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SBCC Trustees Approve Tentative Budget

Board considers converting noncredit, nonenhanced classes to fee-based from free

SBCC approved a tentative budget Thursday, but won’t make final decisions for the 2012-2013 school year until fall.

Like K-12 school districts, SBCC can’t predict whether Gov. Jerry Brown’s November tax initiative will pass, so it’s planning for the worst — about a $2.8 million deficit.

The Board of Trustees is estimating $96.8 million in expenditures, 82 percent of which funds salaries and benefits.

Incoming President Lori Gaskin, who was hired earlier this year and starts work July 9, will help with the adopted budget, which is passed in September.

To generate money for the Continuing Education program, the board wants to convert noncredit, nonenhanced classes to fee-based from free. Out of all the fee-based classes, only half are expected to meet the enrollment requirements, and the rest will be canceled for that semester.

Staff members were prepared to make the changeover for the fall, but Acting President Jack Friedlander proposed that 40 percent of the classes be made fee-based for fall and winter, and then all of them be converted in the spring to coincide with the Center of Lifelong Learning’s opening. That would cost $600,000, however.

His other last-minute proposals were to cancel the noncredit courses at the Ventura County Jail starting in winter — for $85,000 in savings — and restore some classes in the fall. There have been 101 credit sections canceled for the fall schedule, and many students are having trouble getting the necessary classes to graduate, Friedlander said. Bringing back 25 courses would cost $177,500.

All of those options will come back to the board at a special meeting this week, but they got mixed reactions Thursday. The trustees were concerned that the proposal hadn’t gone through the College Planning Council to be vetted, and Friedlander said he was meeting with the CPC on Monday.

Trustee Lisa Macker argued it was worth it to have a one-time cost of $600,000 to delay the noncredit courses having fees, even if reserves are used. If investment is made in the Center for Lifelong Learning, the benefits would travel to the credit courses, she said.

Luis Villegas disagreed. If there is any savings to be found, he said, “we should be talking about opening up 75 classes on the credit side, at least.”

The tentative budget passed Thursday would increase enrollment fees to $46 per unit from $36 and increase out-of-state and international student tuition by $12 per unit. That money wouldn’t actually add to the college’s budget, though, since the state will just allocate less funding, said Joe Sullivan, vice president of business services.

With the higher fees, Sullivan said he thinks more than 70 percent of students would be eligible for BOG (Board of Governors) waivers, which can waive enrollment fees for California residents attending community college. About 50 percent of students currently qualify, he added.

Salaries and wages, the largest portion of SBCC’s expenses, are budgeted at the same rates as they were in January 2008 — except for longevity, step and column raises — and health and welfare costs have increased. Short-term or substitute hourly employees will be reduced by half, with each department deciding what cuts to make.

During public comment, Rosanne Crawford asked that salary reductions be considered as part of the budget process. Even as a temporary measure, it would be less disruptive than layoffs or furloughs and save programs, she said.

SBCC hasn’t negotiated any kind of concessions with its labor groups, but it has become commonplace in local school districts and other government agencies since the recession hit in 2008.

The Santa Barbara Unified School District negotiated five to seven days of furloughs with all of its employees for 2012-2013 and will be shortening the school year by five days as a consequence.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli 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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