College anticipates budget cuts

By Jerry Casarez

With California budget cut discussions going on in Sacramento that will have direct impact to all community colleges statewide, the responsibility has now been shifted locally.

ELAC’s vice presidents met Monday with the school’s budget committee.

Different departments were asked to meet and discuss how they can come together and plan the 2011-12 budget.

The information discussed is all based on a proposed five percent cut to the current budget. The question seems to be with so many unfunded items claimed by each department as priority what really becomes indispensable.

Among those that would feel the blunt of the cuts are the photography and the science departments whose supplies are currently listed as unfunded for next year.

Of course, that could change for better or for worse depending on if that item’s funding status changes over the course of time.

These are the type of decisions that the committee must make.

“The vice presidents have to make tough decisions that sometimes involves cuts and we wanted to understand what guides those decisions,” said Jeffrey Hernandez, who serves as the budget committee faculty coach.

“There is a list of unfunded items that have priority, and that’s another thing we wanted to establish from this process.

“A list of what are those items that we still need so we can present funding for those items,” said Hernandez.

The list of unfunded items goes across a series of departments that could be affecting Auto Tech, Administrative Services, Student Services and faculty and student workers to accommodate the proposed completion of the new campus library.

One thing that was pointed out during the meeting was that some items were listed as operational, which are things that are integral to the program whereas other items lack funding.

All proposed changes to the budget are being done on a best-case scenario of a five percent cut, but it could be as harsh as fifteen percent.

Either option would include a raise in tuition fees.

Students currently pay $26 per unit but that would increase to $36 per unit.

While this is just one step in a series of meetings to decide the final cuts, participation and idea sharing is key.

“Attendance was significantly better this year than last year when we first started the budget process with a town hall meeting,” said Renee D. Martinez, vice president of Workforce Education and Economic Development.

This type of meeting is not only an opportunity to rally around the unfunded items but also a chance to discuss what things are getting funded.

“Funded priorities we hear about how the college is moving forward in certain areas. We don’t only want to hear about what isn’t happening we also want to hear about what is happening,” said Hernandez.

One of the items proposed is the offering of online counseling.

This would be a beneficial asset to students and staff.

With the busy schedule of students this would present a viable opportunity to make meeting with counselors more accessible.

In May, California governor Jerry Brown is expected to release his revised budget for the state.

That information will give the committee an idea of what revisions they need to make. Another thing to be considered is that the district compiles any funds from the colleges previous budgets, most of which is made up from East Los Angeles College’s funds.

How that money is being spent is left as a last resort.

Grants and partnerships also help with special funding of different programs around the campus.

The next meeting for the budget committee is expected to take place on April 4.

“Right now we’re well positioned for the best case scenario if it’s a five percent cut. If we can access some of our balance, then we can take care of most of the unfunded priorities,” said Hernandez.


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