Sigh of relief at LTCC | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Sigh of relief at LTCC

William Ferchland, Tahoe Daily Tribune

The hit will still be there, but the impact is more like a jab than an uppercut.

Guy Lease, president of Lake Tahoe Community College, spoke about a gentler impact regarding last week’s release of a revised state budget proposal from Gov. Gray Davis.

The first plan, released in January, to cover a $36 billion shortfall proposed a staggering $530 million slash to the 108 California community colleges. The revision called for a milder $246 million reduction.

“It’s much kinder,” Lease said, mentioning the reduction was less because the proposed state budget relies heavily on borrowing.

Yet largely due to the initial budget impact, LTCC had to release staff for the first time since 1984 when a teaching load didn’t exist and two faculty members lost their jobs, Lease said. One computer studies teacher position was eliminated.

The disability resource center took a hard hit with the loss of a counselor and two aides after the January proposal called for a decrease of 45 percent of funding to the program. The May proposal stated the disabled students program will now have its funding cut by 1 percent.

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Since the disability students program had most of its funding reinstated, Lease said there may be a chance for employees to get their jobs back.

“This is only one step in the process and we had not seen how this will affect our college directly but that’s a possibility,” he said.

This year’s budget for LTCC allotted the usual $900,000 for Partnership for Excellence, a state-assisted program that helps students transfer to universities and four-year colleges. Davis bumped January’s proposed 45 percent cut to 50 percent, meaning the college will receive only $450,000 next year.

“I’m really concerned about it,” said Lori Gaskin, vice president of academic affairs and student services. “Those programs support all students across all areas. What it basically means is we’re going to have to do the same with less and I don’t know if we can do the same with less.”

In another cost cutting measure effective July 1, LTCC will be closed on Sundays, thus reducing the hours for a library aide and custodian. In addition, due to a lack of business created by the cafeteria, a bookstore employee will lose her job.

Other positions will not be filled, such as the college’s outreach coordinator.

Virginia Boyar, director of vocational education, had her full-time hours reduced to part-time. Her salary was funded half by the college and half by a federal grant, she said. Now her job will be funded solely by the grant.

Boyar put a good face on the matter.

“I understand that the California budget situation is necessitating this and I love the college,” Boyar said. “This is the best job I’ve had.”

Davis still plans to raise fees, but by smaller increments than his January proposal. LTCC, which is one of three California community colleges on the quarter system, the increase would be from the current $7 per unit to $12. The January proposal called for quarter fees to jump to $16. For a full-time student taking 12 units a quarter, the increase means an additional $180 a year.

Lease believes the increase in fees, which he said is the greatest impact for students, will not create a “shocking drop of enrollment.”

— E-mail William Ferchland at wferchland@tahoedailytribune.com

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