Proposition 30 softens budget blows

CN/Arthur Cervantes

By Ehecatl Negrete

The passage of Proposition 30 promises to bring a much-needed $7.5 million boost next year that will help the school’s departments recover from recent budget cuts.

East Los Angeles College was able to add more than 100 classes for the winter semester, according to offsite education and outreach coordinator Sandra Kwan, and 395 classes for spring according to the budget committee meeting held last Monday.

The funds will be split into two categories: restoration and growth funds. Most of the money will be allocated to the restoration fund at $6.75 million, and the other estimated $840,000 will go to the growth fund.

Had Proposition 30 not passed, an additional $5.4 billion in trigger cuts to K-14 education would have devastated the already depleted state budget for education as written by the legislative analysts office.

The $840,413 growth fund will increase ELAC’s 2012-13 Full Time Equivalent Student (FTES) base to 20,977 from the worst case scenario of 19,274 if Proposition 30 had not passed.

However, this increase is still below the predicted FTES prior to budget cuts community colleges faced in 2011-12, according to Dean of Office of Institutional Effectiveness Ryan Cornner.

Although some people may question how the administration intends to allocate this money, funds generated from Proposition 30 are restricted funds. Thus, they cannot be used for college administrative salary and benefits, paying for construction nor any other administrative costs wrote President Farley in an email.

As written in the legislation of Proposition 30, requires local government “to ensure these funds go where the voters intend, they are put in special accounts that the legislature cannot touch.  None of these new revenues can be spent on state bureaucracy or administrative costs.”

In addition, “These funds will be subject to an independent audit every year to ensure they are spent only for schools and public safety.  Elected officials will be subject to prosecution and criminal penalties if they misuse the funds.”

By increasing the current tax rate of personal income tax for persons who make more than $250,000 a year and temporarily implementing a statewide sales tax of a one-quarter cent for four years, the state will earn new revenue to fund education.

“With the passage of Proposition 30…, (ELAC reached) a wonderful step in the right direction to begin to restore what we have lost these past three years,” Interim President Farley Herzek said.

“I still want to emphasize, we are not out of the woods yet.  Even with this infusion of restoration funds and minimal growth funding, we will still be deficit spending next year,” says Interim President Farley Herzek.  ELAC’s deficit spending will equate to $7,458,285.  “The state has already signaled, they anticipate another shortfall for the fiscal year 2013-14.  We must continue our efforts to find solutions to our deficit spending,” says Interim President Farley Herzek.

Associated Student Union President Jennifer Estrada said that Proposition 30 is great because ELAC was going to offer only minimal classes in subjects students need, like Math 125.

Estrada said that ELAC was one of three schools that is able to offer a winter session this year out of the nine schools in the district.

When Proposition 30 passed, the enrollment management committee met to discuss priority registration for Elans.

Kwan said the students were able to wait in line at the Admissions office to manually enroll into classes available on campus before the classes are opened online to the other schools in the district.

Math Department Chair Joseph Kazimir said the impact would be dramatic for helping students in the math department.

“We were able to double our winter offerings from 10 to 22 (classes). From last year to this year, we got four percent of our classes back,” Kazimir said.

According to Kazimir, this is still about an eight to 10 percent cut of the math classes from previous years.

With Proposition 30 passing, Kazimir said “There will be a lot more classes enabling students to move closer towards their goal of transferring to get a degree.”

According to Kazimir, “Instructors were losing income prior to Proposition 30 passing.”

Since instructors are paid by the state of California, they may have had to take a significant pay cut if there was not enough revenue coming in.

Engineering Lab Technician Edward Alvarado said he was worried that if Proposition 30 did not pass, the enginieering department would have to face a substantial amount of budget cuts in supplies and would have to deal with work furloughs.

“I’m not looking at a furlough. I am able to continue offering my services to help my students, and I look forward to doing what I can,” Alvarado said.

Senior Secretary of Admissions and Records Office Sandra Ramirez said she was glad to hear that Proposition 30 passed, and she is hopeful that the governor will keep his word on funding education.

“If Prop 30 didn’t pass, the thing I feared most was you don’t know where the cuts are coming from and which departments would be affected most,” Ramirez said.

Chair of the department of architecture D. Michael Hamner said, “The impact of Prop 30’s passage means we will be sharing in the returned resources, and I think that’s key. I don’t know if all my colleaugues or even all the voters were aware that Prop 30 was not a savior. Prop 30 was a stop gap.”

The architecture department is currently in competition with other departments in the Career Tech Program to gain additional courses from the few allotted hours available.

According to Hamner the EMC asked the architecture department to cut 16 hours for the spring semester, which he expects to get back after Proposition 30 passed.

“We are negotiations for an extra two hours,” Hamner said.

He said he is not sure that the funds from Proposition 30 will be used for their intended purpose.

“There are too many layers between the point where the dollars enters the educational system before it finally gets to the classroom,” Hamner said.

Hamner said he hopes that the passing of Proposition 30 will give students more general education classes so they can get their curriculum education plan done sooner.

“Seventy percent of the students spend six years here and don’t end up with a degree or certificate to transfer. Our goal is to try to get our students out of here,” Hamner said.

Asheley Hernandez, Erik Machuca, Ehecatl Negrete and Jacqueline Ornelas contributed to this story.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *