BY JEREMY ARIAS
J-101 Staff Writer
The East Los Angeles College Budget Committee announced plans to reallocate saved money to fund needed programs.
While the committee awaits further guidance and updates from the Los Angeles Community College District, the committee predicts that East Los Angeles College will be suffering a $100 million deficit, which could result in an estimated 8% reduction of costs.
Despite the cuts and uncertainty, the committee reported considering a partial reopening of campus in the fall.
Vice President of Administrative Affairs Myeshia Armstrong said that the committee was considering using money from the savings of utility costs to help offset the impact of the deficit on student programs. Because the buildings have been unoccupied during the school closure, water and power consumption could be a key saving to fund student programs.
“We think we’ll probably see a couple hundred thousand for the last quarter and looking at doing far greater savings, obviously, for the summer months for sure,” Armstrong said.
Armstrong predicted after mentioning that some buildings have been geared down to lower the costs of utilities.
Though the savings from utility expenses are a big help, Armstrong said the cancellation of the bus shuttle to the South Gate campus is another source of savings to direct revenue to needed programs like Career and Technical Education.
The California Budget May Revisions cut 10% of California Community College funding, but was also recommending that colleges expedite CTE programs to help students get jobs in a time unemployment is skyrocketing. Committee member Laura Ramirez called the situation a “catch 22” as the budget cuts interfere with the programs the budget recommends to focus on.
The committee also discussed a potential partial reopening of campus in the 2020-2021 year. Though the talks of reopening are optimistic and unlikely, there are still many questions pending regarding student and staff safety as well as what the budget would permit.
Armstrong said that if the school were to have a partial reopening, it would be for classes that require a human presence and are not easily adapted to online platforms.
Armstrong also said a partial opening would mandate testing for COVID-19 and additional staff safety training for working under new conditions. These new safety measures would be paid for by ELAC, adding costs to the small budget.
Another concern noted was whether social distancing measures would shorten and limit class sizes. A limit on class size would interfere with the competition students face when registering for classes.
Despite the added measures, the committee predicted that students and staff may still not feel safe reporting to class. The committee acknowledged that members of staff and students could be vulnerable to COVID-19 and the added measures may not be sufficient protection.
The committee reported that they were still interpreting the May Revisions to the California Budget and would bring updates from LACCD as they become available. The committee said they were only getting started on informing students and staff to start thinking about the future operations.