By Steve Adamo
Despite growing enrollment, talk of an upcoming deficit was the main topic of the East Los Angeles College Shared Governance Council meeting Monday.
During his presentation, Vice President of Academic Affairs Ruben Arenas provided numerous slides of data and charts that show East Los Angeles College’s record growth and looming deficit.
“I do firmly believe that we’d be in a much worse situation, if we hadn’t tied to a much more data-driven approach,” Arenas said.
The goal of the presentation was to get all faculty at a common understanding so that they can work together toward possible solutions for the next meeting.
“We should take every chance possible to ensure that evidence is what drives our decision-making,” President Marvin Martinez said. “Usually what follows after looking at the evidence is you should be able to come up with ideas on how to resolve it.”
Class size has a lot to do with the amount of money the college receives per student. In an agreement between Los Angeles Community College District and The Los Angeles College Faculty Guild (Local 1521), the goal is to maintain an average class size of 34 students.
In Arenas’ presentation, stats showed that fiscal years 2011-2012 until 2017-2018, percentage of sections with less than 15 students, doubled from 5 percent to 10 percent.
In the past, the LACCD required ELAC to add more classes to drive up enrollment, but Joseph Kazimir, chairperson of the mathematics department, said this had unexpected consequences.
“It hit us hard in two different ways. Not only did it drop the average class size, we had to find staffing for those,” Kazimir said.
“We’re being penalized because we have been growing,” Business professor Laura E. Ramirez said. “The rest of the campuses are not growing, so they’re taking money away from ELAC.”
Arenas gave some examples of ways the college is currently combatting the deficit. Arenas said, “The Vincent Price Art Museum is an amazing resource.
“We’re going to begin offering art and culture tutoring out of VPAM under Title 5, and that will allow us to essentially get the state to reimburse us for this amazing resource.”
A large portion of Arenas’ presentation was focused on discussing Full-Time Equivalent Student, which is the standard measure of college enrollment in LACCD. One FTES is the equivalent of a student with 525 hours of instruction.
For fiscal year 2017-2018, ELAC received $4,332 in funding per FTES.
The slide in Arenas’ presentation that caused the most conversation was the District Assessment chart. It said for fiscal year 2017-2018, ELAC was assessed at $40 million — nearly a $10 million increase from 2016-2017.
Kazimir discussed how the district wouldn’t allow certain spending when there wasn’t a deficit.
“All those years where we were being fiscally responsible, and other colleges were not maybe as responsible as we were, we were not using that balance where we could have been using that balance to augment a lot of programs for our students,” Kazimir said. “As we see here, once again it’s the students that are taking the hit.”
The next Shared Governance Council Meeting will take place Nov 13, where faculty is encouraged to share their solutions.
Next meeting after the 13th will be on Nov.20, where the administration aims to present their plan for fiscal stability.