By Veronica Hurtado
East Los Angeles College will reduce section offerings by approximately seven percent for the 2012-13 school year to meet expected budget as the school’s Enrollment Management Committee proposes.
The school’s EMC, composed of faculty and some administration staff, released a report recommending new section targets and a process for the school to meet enrollment demand. The EMC’s purpose is to inform the college on how to best address enrollment needs to fulfill the school’s educational plans for the year.
Although the percentage may seem small, the bulk of the reductions the EMC proposes are for Summer 2012 and Winter/Spring 2013. ELAC’s full-potential allocation for the 2012-13 budget is $78 million and it is unclear if the governor’s bond initiative will pass, increasing the budget to $83 million.
This year’s $5-9 million reduction means that the school will have to reduce the number of classes it offers, according to Richard Moyer, Vice President of Academic Affairs. So far, the EMC reported that under a best case scenario, it recommends a reduction of 1,187 hours of instruction for next year. “If we assume that classes are worth three units, the reduction of hours translates to 395 fewer class sections,” said Moyer.
EMC recommends a total approximate reduction of 17 percent in class instruction hours this summer, with credit classes being reduced over non-credit courses. A reduction of 386.8 hours or approximately 129 class section reductions is recommended for credit classes. ELAC administrators do not know which departments are going to be affected at this time.
The EMC also recommends credit sections offerings to be reduced while making no reductions to non-credit sections. Kerrin McMahan, Dean of Academic Affairs, said it would not make sense to reduce non-credit sections because the state refunds the school to offer them, which makes them cost-effective to run.
Non-credit classes are for the most part, basic skills classes that serve the majority of students who attend ELAC. They are used to bring students up to a level where they can succeed in college. The EMC also recommends that the school should not cut cohort programs, such as the Nursing and Respiratory Programs, which offer classes once a year.
McMahan said reductions will not occur across the board for every department. “The EMC has determined that we have to be more judicious and look at what we can really spare,” said McMahan.
Moyer said that the EMC developed a formula to determine which classes ELAC can offer during the summer session. To do so, the EMC laid out a ranking system for the school administration to prioritize classes and decide what to leave out.
Classes will be ranked by a criteria where classes earn points based on the number of requirements they satisfy, allowing students to make academic progress. “Under this system, the classes receiving high points will have a priority, while those receiving less points on this system will be given a lower priority,” said McMahan.
McMahan said that although it may seem that with this ranking system classes serving one criteria in a student’s educational path will be deemed less valuable, this is not true. “All of our classes have value, but since we (the administration) don’t have the money to offer all the classes we would like to offer, we are going to have to try to minimize the damage. So, we are going to have to prioritize the classes that have the most value for students,” said McMahan.
As of now, the administration is unsure how the EMC recommendations will play-out in terms of which specific sections will be reduced. Vice President of Workforce Education and Academic Affairs Renee D. Martinez said that Workforce Education & Development classes such as Career Tech courses will be offered. Yet, due to budget cuts, classes will be cut.
“The Office of Institutional Effectiveness is to release a report where the EMC criteria ranking system is used to prioritize classes (for the college vice presidents and presidents) to make a decision on what to reduce,” said McMahan. When this report is out, Moyer said that he will be looking at cutting classes, with the thought in mind to not cut classes that do most good for students. “Efforts will be made to see that there is a fair and equitable distribution of classes,” said Moyer.
As new cuts in sections are pending, additional enrollment rules could come into effect. With the established enrollment rules and a new “three strike” rule going into effect this summer, McMahan said that the school administration will not add additional enrollment restrictions because they do not want to make it harder for students to get classes.
Elan Ashley Bazulto who has been at ELAC for the last three years taking classes to pursue a degree in pre-veterinary at Cal Poly Pomona needs Math 227 and Chemistry 65 to transfer. Her plan is to take those classes next year because they are tough classes to pass in the short summer section. “If (the administration) cuts down on the classes that I need, then it would push back my time to transfer for another year,” Bazulto said.
“(This) may also mean that many more students will not be able to find the classes they need. For some, it may not be possible to be a full-time student, particularly for new students,” Academic Senate Vice President Jeffrey Hernandez said. Furthermore, college employees are also affected by the EMC recommendations. “Instructors will lose their teaching assignments. This will be particularly true for part-time teachers, some will not be rehired,” said Hernandez.
Spencer Scarbough, athletics department instructor, who is part-time and has been teaching at ELAC since the early ’80s, said he did not know how the recommendation would affect him. “Here at ELAC, I’m here to do a purpose and to do it as best I can. There will be no negative affects on me until a negative affect comes. Until then, there is nothing else I can do,” said Scarbough. McMahan said part-time instructors could lose an average of $5,000 from their salaries for not teaching in the summer.
The administration believes that out of the nine colleges in the district, ELAC is expected to be the most affected by these reductions because it is the largest college in the district with the largest student body. “I would recommend that students read their election ballots. There will be three initiatives on the November ballot that will impact additional funds or cuts to the college budget. Students need to be aware of these initiatives and make their voice known with their vote,” said Martinez.
In addition Hernandez said that students and employees should let their families and neighbors know what they are going through, and how it will be even worse if a tax initiative does not pass in November. McMahan said that given the current circumstances, students need to sit down with a counselor and create an educational plan with multiple back-ups, so they will have more control of their education for accomplishing their goals. “(Students) need to pounce on the opportunities that arise in the future,” said McMahan.
On March 19, the school’s Office of Institutional Effectiveness will meet with the EMC and the college vice presidents and presidents to make a decision on which classes to cut. The OIE provides the administration with research to make decisions on strategic, educational, technology and facility plans.