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2 Community College Bills Win Senate OK

September 03, 1987|JESS BRAVIN | Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — Two community college bills that passed with acrimony in the Assembly slid through the Senate with barely a murmur Wednesday as the upper house adopted measures to continue tuition charges for the two-year schools and to loosen restrictions against students attending junior colleges outside their home districts.

Both bills must be returned to the Assembly for final action before being sent to Gov. George Deukmejian.

The tuition bill, authored by Assemblyman Patrick Johnston (D-Stockton), extends through 1992 what in 1983 was considered an emergency measure to keep the financially strapped colleges afloat: charges of $5 a course unit with a maximum of $50 a semester. The Senate voted 31 to 1 for the measure, after Sen. Gary K. Hart (D-Santa Barbara) described the fees as an unfortunate but necessary imposition on students.

Ease Restrictions

The Assembly, in contrast, had split 46 to 25 in favor of the measure when it voted in June, with lawmakers vigorously arguing the merits of requiring students of the 106-campus system to pay a portion of the costs of their instruction. Until 1983, California's community colleges had been among the few public higher-education institutions in the nation to offer instruction free.

The Senate also approved, 21 to 3, a measure that would loosen the restrictions that prohibit students from attending a two-year school outside the community college district in which they reside.

Currently, each of California's 70 community college districts has considerable authority to limit the number of students it enrolls from other attendance areas. Under the bill authored by Assemblyman Tom Hayden (D-Santa Monica), the statewide community college board would have authority to limit interdistrict attendance in cases of severe overcrowding or when the attendance of students from other districts would seriously disrupt a student body's ethnic balance.

'Financial Health'

The bill also allows the governors to limit interdistrict attendance when the presence of students from other districts would harm the "financial health" or "educational program integrity" of the college in question. The community colleges are funded through a complex formula based on average daily attendance in courses, and thus their allocations from the state depend on the number of students they enroll.

The Hayden bill reflects a dispute between Santa Monica College, located in the assemblyman's district, and the nine-campus Los Angeles Community College District. The Los Angeles district has feared that free-flow legislation would drain its Westside campuses of students, who would flock to the older and better-known Santa Monica College.

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