LTCC president optimistic on school’s future
During his State of the College address, Lake Tahoe Community College President Guy Lease acknowledged the impact of the California budget crisis but said the college would forge ahead.
Lease, speaking Friday to an almost packed LTCC theater, started his presentation focusing on the past achievements of the school.
He cited the course completion rate of the 2000-01 school year was 76 percent, 7 percent higher than the state average. The percentage equates to LTCC having a higher course completion rate than 100 of the state’s 108 community colleges, Lease said.
Lease was also proud at the college having more Lake Tahoe Unified School District graduates enrolled at LTCC. Out of 308 LTUSD graduates in 2002, 41 percent went to the college, compared to 23 percent of 313 graduates in 2001.
New programs for vocational education, expansion of the Tahoe Parents Nursery School and increased outreach activities were some of the additional accomplishments Lease mentioned.
With his PowerPoint presentation, Lease showed pictures of the new physical education building and student center. Plans for the new library, expected to break ground in May 2004, remained on schedule, Lease said.
But the mood quickly turned when screens displayed the affects of Gov. Gray Davis’ budget proposal.
The college could face $611,000 in midyear cuts in areas such as general revenue, growth and equipment and scheduled maintenance after Davis instituted more proposed reductions in January, Lease said.
“This is absolutely the worst case scenario,” he said.
There was room for optimism in the midyear cuts could actually be turned into a gain. This week the Legislature, which Lease said was attempting to shift money around so proposed cuts won’t go against the general revenue, will release budget information. The best result of the information could be certain areas won’t be touched, such as general revenue.
Instead, the college would lose $140,000 but the amount would be erased with a gain of $175,000 in growth money for this year.
“These numbers are so far apart you can’t take them seriously,” Lease said about midyear reductions.
Yet the outlook remained dim for the 2003-04 proposed budget when the college could lose $1.2 million; the most affected areas being general revenue and categorical programs.
For now planning is difficult throughout the California Community College system with an estimated loss of 200,000 students, and courses and programs eliminated or reduced, Lease said.
“I could just say that next year is going to be tough so please submit your budgets and don’t ask for any new or replacement equipment, supplies, travel funds, part-time help, tutors, lights, heat, that sort of thing,” Lease said, half-jokingly.
Planning for the next school year — such as the reconstruction of the second floor where the current library is located, fund-raising for the art gallery and Web registration for the winter 2004 quarter — will continue, Lease said.
“The college is doing great, you’re doing great, but we’re entering a period of limited resources and we will have to tighten our belts,” Lease said.
After the speech, Fritz Wenck, president of the LTCC Board of Trustees, said the college will handle the proposed reductions while attempting to protect jobs.
“I think we’ll get through it like all the others,” Wenck said.
— E-mail William Ferchland at firstname.lastname@example.org
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