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Colleges Cut 300 Courses Due to Slide in Enrollment : Education: The drop in the number of students is blamed on increased fees. Many say the reductions will make it harder to get the classes they need.


Students at Moorpark, Oxnard and Ventura colleges will have about 300 fewer classes to choose from this summer and next school year, college officials said Wednesday.

Golf, scuba and tennis classes at Ventura College will not be offered this summer. Some studio art classes and theater performance courses won't be available either.

At Moorpark College, students who had the option of taking English, math and biology at 7, 8 or 9 a.m. will find their choices more limited this summer and next school year. Oxnard College students will find their course offerings reduced by about 50 classes.

"Students may not get every class that they wanted, or they may have to take classes at inconvenient times," said Lyn MacConnaire, Ventura College's vice president of instruction.

At Ventura College, administrators decided to slash physical education classes this summer by 70%. But students are required to take one physical education course to earn an associate degree.

"Students are encouraged to take them in fall and spring," MacConnaire said.

After the trustees of the Ventura County Community College District late Tuesday voted unanimously to eliminate classes to save money, administrators at the Moorpark and Ventura campuses on Wednesday were scrambling to find cuts in summer school offerings because catalogues are due at the printers in a few days, and registration begins in less than two weeks.

Oxnard officials have already scaled back some vocational course offerings this summer and plan to further review their summer school schedule today to make more reductions. Of the three campuses, Oxnard will receive the fewest class cuts because it is the smallest college and already offers fewer courses than the other two.

Officials said they will try to keep general education classes and courses needed to transfer to four-year universities. But fewer sections of the same class will be offered because of the cuts, which may lead to larger class sizes, administrators said.

Administrators at all three campuses said math, English, biology, chemistry, political science, sociology and history courses would probably have fewer sections this summer and next year.

Trustees said they were forced to drop classes because of declining enrollment. About 5% fewer students enrolled for spring semester because of increased fees, administrators said.

College officials said that they expect to cut another $1.8 million from the district's budget by June 30, and that additional classes may be eliminated. Despite the decline in enrollment, students say signing up for classes is already difficult and they expect it to get worse.

Steven Klein, a 19-year-old television major at Oxnard College, said he anticipates trouble enrolling in some classes next school year. Klein said fewer courses being offered means that he will find himself imploring instructors to let him into classes that are already full.

"It probably means that it would take me longer to get my A. A. degree," he said.

The 300 classes that are being cut amount to more than 3% of the 8,000 courses offered at the three colleges each year. It is the first time since Proposition 13 was passed in 1978 that the 31,000-student district has had to eliminate classes.

Moorpark College physics instructor Clint Harper blasted the class cuts as ludicrous and said he heard about possible course reductions about the same time he received a memo indicating that the board of trustees was going to hire a new head basketball coach at Oxnard College.

"I just had a meltdown," Harper said. "Here we're cutting back the academic program and we're out hiring coaches. When you're canceling math and physics and English classes, you have no business spending money in intercollegiate sports, unless they're self-supporting."

Board President Gregory P. Cole said in response: "We've had a resignation from a basketball coach from Oxnard College, and I don't believe we've hired a new one yet. That position is probably part-time anyway."

"We have no choice," Cole said.

College officials said they will focus on chopping many summer school courses so they can offer more classes in the fall and spring, when enrollment is higher. Classes with fewer than 15 students enrolled are vulnerable, and some specialty courses will also be targeted.

Arcadia Rivera, a 19-year-old nursing student at Ventura College, said she may have to delay her plans to transfer to a four-year school if she can't get the courses she needs next year.

"You have to literally beg the teachers (to get in), the classes are so packed," Rivera said.

Students complain that even without the cuts approved by the trustees, enrolling in classes can be a challenge.

April Hovanec of Agoura Hills began her freshman year at Moorpark last fall and immediately found that she couldn't get any of the classes she wanted.

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