By Jeremy Arias
The East Los Angeles College Budget Committee outlined goals and anticipated challenges following its first decreased allocated budget since 2017. The outline was a suggested course of action, as the budget committee reviewed the Unrestricted Fund Allocation and Expenditure Summary. The Unrestricted Fund Allocation and Expenditure Summary displays the expenses and budgets since 2017 and projects the budget for the 2021 fiscal year.
The Unrestricted Fund Allocation and Expenditure Summary shows that cuts will be made to many areas, such as Certified Salaries, Employee benefits, and Books and Supplies in the 2021 fiscal year.
The only area that will not be cut for the next fiscal year is ‘other,’ which is being increased by $7.3 million. ELAC Financial Administrator Hao Xie said this was a contingency account that pulled together funds from cut programs like Student Services and Administrative Services.
“We have not had to do that because we have always had more budget than our expenditure,” Xie said.
In the previous years since 2017, ELAC’s allocated budget and expenditures were slowly increasing. This is the first year since that ELAC’s budget has decreased, and the committee is looking for ways to decrease expenditures, while following certain principles to guide their decisions.
The number one principle in the list is to maintain student access to courses, programs and services to the greatest extent possible.
The ever-changing budget, following the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, was the first and most prominent anticipated challenge recognized by the committee. Following the pandemic, the school’s allocated budget was decreased and student enrollment dropped by almost ten percent.
“The challenge is (lowered enrollment) having input on the budget reductions,” Academic Senate President Jeffrey Hernandez said. “We need to make sure that our planning priorities are driving the budget and not the other way around,” he said.
Though the committee has acknowledged that there are some measures currently being voted on that will have effects on the budget, it has not yet considered any in its projections. One way the committee is looking to save the school money is by reducing ELAC’s Los Angeles County Sheriff’s contract, which is in place for student safety on campus.
Hernandez proposed in previous meetings that ELAC should decrease its Sheriff’s contract by 10%. The Sheriff’s contract is coming to an end in December and will be renegotiated. Hernandez said that the district is now considering making a minimum of a 10% cut to the contract.
Hernandez also mentioned transitioning the Sheriff’s presence to a community policing program, as changes in its policing and community safety is gaining support in its active political climate. One goal that the budget committee made was to make more detailed information to ensure transparency and enhance the committee member’s understanding of the budget.
“There is some information that perhaps could be communicated in a better format,” said Administrative Services Vice President Myehsia Armstrong elaborating on the goal. Armstrong said that the next meeting will be used to discuss how the committee’s goals will be met. The committee expects the current budget struggles to continue into the next fiscal year.