(Chancellor Cindy L. Miles sent this message to all district employees Dec. 14 following news of the state budget cuts.)
Yesterday, Gov. Jerry Brown announced that state budget revenues fell $2.2 billion below the budget assumptions made in June, triggering budget reductions for higher education, social services, libraries, and public safety. For California’s community colleges, this will mean a $102 million budget cut and a fee increase for students from $36 to $46 per credit unit beginning in summer 2012.
For our District, this will mean a budget reduction of almost $6.3 million. Fortunately, we anticipated this worst-case scenario and built in these cuts when we prepared our $179 million budget that was approved by the Governing Board in September. We don’t expect to make any further cuts now on top of the many painful ones we’ve already had to take.
Indeed, those cuts have been incredibly painful, especially for our students. We’ve eliminated almost 600 course sections at Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges this school year, including reducing our summer schedule to one-fourth of what it was two years ago.
Because our enrollment depends on state funding, we’ll be serving almost 2,900 fewer students than last year. And we can’t forget that this year’s cuts come on top of 1,000 course sections we’ve already eliminated in the past two years.
I’m glad that our budget leadership -- the Governing Board and the District Strategic Planning and Budget Council -- had the foresight to prepare for these cuts, but it breaks my heart to know that we have to turn away so many students. In this economy, when so many people come to us seeking training and education so they can improve their lives, we’re all frustrated that we can’t provide the level of access to learning that community colleges have traditionally offered. We are now rationing education.
The budget difficulties of the past three years have been incredibly challenging for our District, but I’m proud of the many efforts we’ve made to save money. To point out just a few:
· Cut supplies by 20 percent and reduced spending on utilities, travel, and other operating expenses
· Instituted a critical hiring process and held open other unfilled positions
· Developed more comprehensive and effective online reports to facilitate better planning and decision-making
· Focused on grant development to seek alternative funding sources
· Launched the Foundation for Grossmont and Cuyamaca Colleges to streamline fundraising that had been done by two separate college foundations
We’re facing some tough times, and it’s hard to predict when things will get better. But I appreciate knowing that every one of you is dedicated to doing your best for our students no matter what happens. As we prepare for the holidays, sleep well knowing that our District is well prepared for whatever budget turmoil may come our way.
Cindy L Miles
Chancellor, Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District