By Jonathan Bermudez
The LACCD board of trustees held a meeting to discuss student housing and money that is being lent by the government for the COVID pandemic. Senior Policy Adviser for the law firm Holland and Knight Leslie Pollner, was the first to speak in the meeting.
She gave a federal update on President Joe Biden’s rescue plan. She said next week the House Budget Committee will put a care package together and by February 26 the committee will bring it to the floor.
Pollner said “The bill includes $40 billion for higher education institutions in addition to funding for K through 12 and the $40 billion for higher education.”
“They’re going to distribute it using the same formula that they used in December, which is 50% headcount and 50% FTE (full time employees), which is really great for LACCD.” Pollner believes this is the last covid relief package that they are going to receive, and she wants to use the money cautiously.
Dale Shimasaki with Strategic Educational Services, was the next person to talk during the meeting. He went over hearing dates for bills and explained that there would be limits to committees for these hearings due to COVID-19.
He went over bills with the committee that were sent by members from lobby day visits last month so the committee can consider them. These bills include AB 102, which is the removal of sunset date of dual enrollment programs so the program can operate indefinitely and don’t have to come back every two or three years to reauthorize the legislation.
Another is AB 295, which provides working groups on public higher education free tuition. The working group tries to find a way to provide tuition free of charge to needy and disadvantaged students.
More legislation was added by Trustee Andra Hoffman for AB 396, which is a CalFresh bill. This bill is to certify that they have employment in training programs so that students can apply to CalFresh.
Trustee David Vela gave the motion to be moved and was second by Trustee Hoffman. The rest of the meeting centered around updates on funding for school, affordable housing and how they plan to provide more money for students in need.
Mark Mcdonald, member of the committee, said that there will be $20 million dollars for outreach and retention. Two million dollars will go to the state chancellor and $18 million to the colleges in the district.
He also said that there is $100 million dollars for food and housing that will go through the regular budget process and this will be discussed through June.
He said that the Department of Finance proposed that this money would all go to the state chancellor for statewide outreach, but they suggested that part of that money goes to the community colleges.
“There’s no specific distribution methodology for this. That hasn’t been determined yet. It will go through the Chancellor’s Office. It looks like now it will go out as grants to the district, but that can change.” Trustee Vela said in response in Mcdonald’s presentation.
“There’s a lot of misconception that we have cheap housing. The (San Francisco) Bay Area thinks that of us and it’s not the truth actually. We are slowly and steadily climbing as to one of the most expensive cities to live in the United States next to New York and San Francisco,” said Vela.
Housing is an important issue to him because he doesn’t want students living in horrible conditions. “We should be ashamed of not really understanding the more economic perspective of our communities and how they are living instead were pushed by a more progressive affluent community who is telling us what to do when it comes to how we should house our students.” That is the biggest concern and how they can remove these barriers to giving money to the community.
Mcdonald clarified that the financial plan for the housing money distribution methodology is advantageous to the district.
They are going to get more money then if they would have done the formula of distribution differently.