LTCC looks to cut from 2012-13 budget
Editor’s note: This story has been modified from the printed version. This version corrects the amount being cut, as well as provides more information about the reorganization.
Lake Tahoe Community College is looking to cut $890,000 from the projected 2012-13 budget by September by instituting an early retirement package, reorganizing departments and eventually cutting sections.
The college currently has a deficit of $1.6 million, and plans to cut $890,000 by September and cover the rest with reserves, according to Kindred Murillo, president and superintendent of LTCC
If Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax measure doesn’t pass in November, the college will have to plan for an additional $708,000 loss by next July, Murillo said.
“We’re looking at a very big reduction as far as our budget, and also what’s called a work-load reduction, which means the state is saying, ‘OK, we know we’re giving you less money, so you don’t have to serve as many students,'” LTCC Public Information Officer Christina Proctor.
But LTCC, like the state’s other 112 community colleges, is on an open-enrollment system, meaning the school has to accept everyone 18 years and older who applies. The only way to control enrollment is to limit classes, Proctor said.
Some community colleges have dropped all their summer sections to deal with the budget cuts, Proctor said. So far, LTCC administration has kept the cuts away from the classroom, but is already looking to cut classes starting in Fall 2013. The school has dropped 41 summer sections so far this year, but all these cancellations were due to light enrollment, she said.
In order to keep the cuts from affecting students, LTCC has looked to implement an early retirement package, reorganize the faculty and strengthen ties with the Lake Tahoe Unified School District.
“First off, we have the early retirement package because it’s a nice way to reduce costs without layoffs,” Murillo said. “We’re trying to work with the community to meet their needs.”
The college is also reorganizing various areas such as maintenance and operations and fiscal services, Murillo said. The reorganization entails not filling some vacated positions and creating new and different positions to reorganize the work, she said.
“The ultimate goal is to get a cost savings by not filling positions but finding better and more effective ways to get the work accomplished,” Murillo stated Saturday in an email. “In some cases we are having to determine what we are not going to continue doing. The state has made it impossible for us to continue operating the same way.”
This is all part of the bigger picture affecting community colleges across the state. According to the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, community college budgets have been cut by $809 million – or 12 percent – in the past four years. The San Francisco Chronicle reported last Wednesday that the City College of San Francisco, the state’s largest community college, could close in eight months.
If the November tax initiative passes, it could staunch some of this bleeding, with a $213 million infusion for 2012-13 fiscal year, according to the chancellor’s office. But the Public Policy Institute of California published a report on 1 June stating that just 41 percent of adults support the proposal to raise state sales tax and vehicle registration fees.
“Right now polls aren’t suggesting that Californians will say, ‘Yes, we will pay more taxes.’ It’s like how to plan your budget on all these uncertainties,” Proctor said. “The college is trying to reorganize, knowing that the California state situation is probably not going to turn around in the next year.”
When the California community colleges were first established in the 1960s, they were free. The idea was to make higher education available to everyone, Proctor said. With tuition skyrocketing across the country, community colleges present an alternative to many students, but budget cuts in California and across the country might affect the foundations of the whole system.