Grossmont budget woes: a tale of three numbers

William Dudley

William Dudley

GROSSMONT COLLEGE–$22.8 million;  15  percent;  $36.

These numbers represent three benchmarks of  Grossmont College’s current financial situation – a crisis that Tim Flood, vice president for administrative services,  said is not simply the worst in his own years with Grossmont, but “the worst budget  that anyone in the education field can remember.”

The $22.8 million is the difference between Grossmont’s current 2010-2011 budget and the projected amount Grossmont will be getting for the 2011-2012 fiscal year due to California’s own budget crisis.

Believe it or not, that is not the worse-worse case scenario, but it is the one that the administrators at the Grossmont-Cuyamacca Community College District (GCCCD) are using to figure the cuts that will be necessary in the fall.

But, as Flood said in a Friday interview with the Summit,   “there is no way to cut $22 million in a single year.”  Making that goal requires sacrifices this academic year as well.  Like a squirrel storing acorns for the winter, Grossmont College has been using various strategies to not spend money this year, even when it was in the budget.  Freezes on equipment purchases, hiring for open positions, roofing maintenance, etc. will help net Grossmont $10.7 million this year, leaving $12.1 million in further budget cuts for next year, according to Flood.

That leads to the second figure – 15 percent. That is the amount of across-the-board cuts in the number of classes and students to be offered at Grossmont next semester. That means 15 percent fewer slots for students.  It also means fewer classes being taught by part-time instructors.

(Additionally, summer school classes have been reduced by 50 percent from summer 2009. Many Grossmont departments have or will cut out summer classes completely.)

The various cuts would be even more drastic if not for the $36 –what Grossmont students will be paying per unit next year, up from the current fee of $26 per unit. The increase in fees for all California community college students has already been approved by the state legislature and Governor Jerry Brown and will raise an estimated $110 million in revenue for the state, a portion of which then comes back to the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District.

Even with the increase, Grossmont College could be considered a good deal. International students and other non-California residents pay $190 a unit, which Flood asserted is indicative of the “full cost of education” without any state-apportioned funds.

What does this all mean for Grossmont students (besides having to cough up more money)? Flood offered the following predictions and advice for current and prospective students.

  • Register as soon as possible. Current Grossmont students get some preferential treatment over new students, including incoming local high school seniors, in registering for classes.
  • Know you need to be flexible. Your first, second, or third choices to fufill your degree or financial aid requirements might not be available. Taking classes on multiple campuses might be an option.
  • Do not count on “crashing” filled-up classes.
  • Be patient.

Finally, Flood closed the interview by saying that “nobody wants to do this.” Students “need to be vocal with their legislators” if they see a problem with the current budget situation, he said.

Dudley is editor-in-chief of the GC Summit.  He may be contacted at [email protected]