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City College Considering Class Cuts to Ease Deficit

May 01, 1986|LEONARD BERNSTEIN | Times Staff Writer

Faced with a budget deficit of $600,000 at San Diego City College and prospects for a larger shortfall next year, community college trustees met Wednesday night to decide whether to eliminate 300 class sections from next fall's course offerings.

Late Wednesday night the trustees had reached no decision.

The proposal to cut the class sections has angered student leaders at the college, who organized a noon protest rally at City College on Wednesday and brought scores of supporters to the meeting at the district's Mission Valley offices to voice their opposition.

Allen Repashy, president of City College, has told administrators that 300 course sections might have to be slashed from next fall's offerings to prevent more red ink than the $600,000 deficit that developed this year because of under-enrollment in many classes. The cuts would be made in all college programs.

Community colleges are funded by the state, based on enrollments in course sections. City college must average 31 students in each class each day to cover the cost of holding the courses, Repashy said. But since the 1982-83 school year, the average has usually hovered around 21.

But some of the school's approximately 2,000 sections attracted fewer students than predicted this year, causing a $600,000 deficit in the fund used to pay temporary instructors hired to teach the classes, Repashy said.

Board members must decide how to make up the loss. One possible source is $960,000 in California Lottery revenue that trustees recently decided not to spend this year. They have set the money aside to earn interest that could be used for building projects. Under current law, lottery revenue cannot be spent for construction projects.

Repashy offered the trustees three alternatives for next year. They included cutting no classes and absorbing the predicted budget deficit, which could run as high as $900,000; cutting 120 sections and covering a smaller deficit, or cutting 300 sections to prevent the budget deficit. Another 200 classes might have to be cut later, Repashy said.

"We're very opposed to that, because they're just blaming student lack of enrollment," said Vicki Patungan, president of the Associated Student Body. "But the problem lies in the fact nothing is done to attract students to San Diego City College."

Enrollment at City College has dropped from a high of 16,114 in the spring of 1983 to 12,929 this semester. A host of reasons were cited for the sharp decrease, including the imposition of tuition in 1984, a decrease in the number of veterans attending City College and the low incomes of many of its students.

Repashy said that he hoped the board would cut no classes this year and allow administrators to review campus programs. The study would show which programs are unpopular and should be eliminated--a more effective way of ensuring enrollments than cutting class sections across the board, he said.

If whole programs were eliminated, faculty members in those disciplines would have to be trained to teach in other departments or would be laid off, Repashy conceded.

Garland Peed, chancellor of the San Diego Community College District, agreed that cutting unpopular programs is the district's best option.

"If we're going to become a smaller college, I would like to see us have fewer programs, but have better programs where we have them," Peed said. "Build a college with fewer programs, but make those programs of high popularity."

Peed said that City College is experiencing the same enrollment declines that have plagued other urban community colleges in the state in recent years. The district's three other campuses, Mesa College, Miramar College and the Educational Cultural Center, do not have budget deficits, he said.

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