East L.A. College stands to lose $4 million

By Vivian Ramirez

The state Executive Committee of the District Budget Committee (ECDBC) is currently drafting a new allocation formula for the distribution of funds to the Los Angeles Community College District that would cost ELAC an estimated $4 million.

The District Budget Committee (DBC) oversees the development of the district’s budgets, makes recommendations to the budget and monitors college debt and attempts to reduce it.  Currently, the allocation model is based on the enrollment of students at each community college.

The ECDBC is suggesting a new allocation method that will determine college budgets based on the square footage a college occupies. The DBC is supposed to vote on the approval of EDBC’s formula next month.

The proposed model is supposed meet the needs of buildings, administrative staffing costs, and maintenance and operations. If passed, the new allocation formula will result in some colleges receiving larger allocations, while others will receive significantly less funding.

Most impacted from this possible decision will be ELAC, with an estimated 25,000 enrolled students from 2010-11. The DBC’s reasons to discard the old formula based on student enrollment is that it resulted in extreme conditions to individual colleges.

ELAC made the most money, a reason tied to its large student enrollment, while other colleges remain in chronic debt. To aid the colleges that will lose money, the DBC plans to provide a Transition Funding Adjustment.

The adjustment will gradually ease the colleges into a lesser budget by implementing only 50 percent  of the allocation changes during its first three years. However, ELAC already suffered a severe slash in budget cuts during the 2011-12 school year.

The base allocation budget for this year was not enough to cover all costs, and ELAC had to dip into $5 million from last year’s carryover balance. “Obviously, that sort of spending is not sustainable,” said Jeffrey Hernandez, Professor of Political Science.

“Plus, due to state budget cuts, ELAC’s base budget allocation for 2012-13 is expected to be $81.4 million under the best case scenario, (that is), if voters approve tax increases in November. In other words, if we cross our fingers, our base allocation will only be reduced by $2 million, which requires a $7 million cut to what we are actually spending this year,” said Hernandez.

Furthermore, ELAC isn’t currently being funded for all the students that are being taught, said Hernandez. ELAC’s enrollment is measured by Full-Time Equivalent Students (FTES), which is already 15% over what is being funded for. “That amount of unfunded FTES is way out of proportion from any other college in the district,” said Hernandez.

“To reach this enrollment target of base +4%, we have to plan on cutting at least 350 sections, which will only result in saving about $2 million.” The result of the ECDBC’s new formula will be a base budget allocation for 2012-13 of only $77.5 million.

This means that in addition to cutting sections, more students will have to be turned down. This might also spark more competition to enroll for certain courses and even more students struggling to add the few available seats in the future.

As a worst-case scenario, subsequent to the new allocation formula and additional budget cuts, ELAC might eventually become a deficit college, which tend to give issues with accreditation. In order for the situation to remain more or less normal at ELAC, voters should approve tax raises this November.


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