SBCC cooking

Cooking classes are among the many personal-enrichment options that SBCC’s Center for Lifelong Learning offers for the community — and plans to continue to do so. (SBCC photo)

Santa Barbara City College’s Center for Lifelong Learning is completing its second successful year offering personal enrichment classes and workshops to our community. Formerly part of SBCC’s Continuing Education/Adult Education, the CLL is an integral part of the college, along with our basic skills, certificate, degree, transfer and career technical education programs.

Despite the success of the CLL, rumors continue to circulate about the college’s commitment to lifelong learning. We would like to take this opportunity to dispel a few of these rumors via myth-busting.

Myth #1

SBCC does not have a commitment to continuing the CLL. SBCC plans to replace CLL classes at the Wake and Schott campuses with credit classes and student housing.

Myth Buster

Over the past year and a half, the college has been engaged in a facility-use planning process across our three campuses. Each step of the way, the process has both acknowledged and recognized the CLL’s continued and long-term presence at the Wake and Schott campuses. There is no plan or intent to displace the CLL from either locale.

Indeed, last November’s proposed bond measure to modernize the college’s aging and deteriorating facilities included a complete renovation of both Wake and Schott — in order to provide the CLL with more functional and updated classrooms. Finally, no housing is planned for the Wake or Schott campuses.

Myth #2

The names Wake “Village” and Schott “Institute” have been adopted and indicate plans to exclude the CLL from the campuses.

Myth Buster

The terms Village and Institute are being used in our facilities planning work to conceptually characterize the Wake and Schott campuses for space planning and architectural design purposes. The Village and Institute have been developed as themes that will be used to architecturally reflect the different focus of each campus and organize the programs located on each campus based on the principles/ideologies of each concept. The Wake and Schott campuses are not being renamed.

Myth #3

50,000 people used to take classes at Adult Ed.

Myth Buster

The number 50,000 cannot be validated or substantiated. In 2010-11, the most recent year for which the college has accurate data for the Continuing Education Division (pre-CLL), approximately 22,000 individual students enrolled in either personal enrichment classes (now part of the CLL) or noncredit basic skills/English as a Second Language/vocational education offerings. In 2013-14, there were 14,000 individual students enrolled in either CLL or noncredit courses — 8,100 in CLL and 5,900 in noncredit.

The college is committed to offering the breadth and depth of CLL classes that are aligned with student learning needs and interests. There now exists more latitude to do just that since the CLL is free of the state restrictions imposed upon the former Continuing Education classes.

Myth #4

Adult Education is on the demise.

Myth Buster

The CLL is a stable, popular program offering in-demand classes. Over 2,200 classes have run successfully. In its first two years, the CLL has recorded over 12,000 students enrolling in personal enrichment offerings, including 4,100 new students in its second year alone.

Myth #5

SBCC plans to keep increasing CLL fees in order to put the program out of business.

Myth Buster

The CLL is a community service program authorized under the Education Code governing the California Community Colleges.  Such programs must be self-supporting and cannot receive state subsidy or state support. As with the launch of any new enterprise, a multi-year plan for a break-even budget was developed and implemented commencing with the 2013-14 inaugural year of CLL. The average class fee has been $5.54 per contact hour and a teacher compensation revenue sharing model was put into place. This fiscal plan indicated that by its third year (2015-16) the CLL would need to begin contributing to operational expenses shared with the college. A $1 per contact hour increase in 2015-16 will provide the CLL with revenue to pay those required operating expenses and allow an addition to teacher compensation.

Myth #6

The price of CLL classes is more than at other providers of personal enrichment offerings.

Myth Buster

A recent survey of five other community colleges with large community education programs showed that, on average, these colleges: (1) charge double the CLL’s average fee; and (2) offer only one-third the number of classes. While a couple of other programs charge less than the CLL, they do so by offering a far smaller selection of classes –  just one-fifth the number of class as the CLL. As evidenced by this comparison, SBCC continues to be committed to maintaining the CLL fees at the lowest rates possible while maximizing choice.

Myth #7

SBCC does not care about low-income students wishing to take personal enrichment classes.

Myth Buster

Our data indicates that 50 percent of CLL students are over the age of 60. Often individuals in this age bracket have limited disposable incomes, and this is one of the reasons our high-value classes are offered at such a low fee. Also, thanks to generous donations and grants, $75 tuition assistance awards have been offered to low-income CLL students since the CLL’s inception.

Myth #8

SBCC can supplement the CLL’s revenue in order to reduce fees.

Myth Buster

In response to the state’s shifting priorities for community colleges, SBCC focused its resources on its credit and noncredit programs that are aligned with these priorities and converted its personal enrichment offerings to fee-based classes. SBCC cannot legally use state funds to support a fee-based, personal enrichment community education program or to reduce CLL student fees.

The Truth

The CLL has been — and will continue to be — an integral part of SBCC. We remain steadfast in our commitment to lifelong learning. We encourage the community to offer CLL class suggestions or consider sharing your expertise by teaching in the program. Click here to view the latest CLL offerings.

— Lori Gaskin, Ph.D., is president of Santa Barbara City College, Jack Friedlander, Ph.D., is executive vice president and Andy Harper is executive director of SBCC’s Center for Lifelong Learning.