A message from Chancellor Cindy L. Miles
As we wrestle with ongoing uncertainties, I hope you can share the inspiration I feel in celebrating our accomplishments over the last year and the many creative advances underway. Let me pause and THANK YOU ALL again for your dedication and commitment to providing the best education possible for our students despite state funding cuts that continue to decimate our budget. Our budgetary situation is far from stable, but I’m confident that we will continue to find ways to thrive no matter what budget surprises may come our way.
Reading a budgetary crystal ball
On Tuesday night, our Governing Board did as they are required by law and approved a $173 million 2011-2012 tentative budget for the college district. Over the last two years, our total general fund budget has shrunk by $8 million despite dramatically rising costs and student needs.
Our financial situation remains unclear as we await resolutions from Sacramento. Governor Brown vetoed the budget that was sent him by the Legislature, saying it wasn’t balanced. State Controller John Chiang has agreed and will not pay legislators until a balanced budget is actually passed.
Our tentative budget is built on the state’s January projection of an $8.1 million funding cut, although the latest numbers in the May revised budget indicate a slightly higher cut of $8.3 million. Our larger challenge comes over the next few months as we try to prepare our 2011-2012 adoption budget, which must be approved by September 15, while keeping a sharp eye on the budget roller coaster at the state capital. Depending on the turn that legislators take, we may be addressing deeper cuts or the possibility of further mid-year cuts. With better luck, we may not have to turn away quite as many students next year as we have been forced to prepare for.
In putting together our budget, our District Strategic Planning and Budget Council (and all the college/district services planning and budget councils that prepared their portions of the budget) holds true to our values of protecting the learning core and ensuring we put students first in providing access and helping them to achieve success. This commitment is getting tougher to safeguard, with the 800 course sections we’re forced to eliminate for the 2011-2012 school year on top of the 1,000 sections we’ve had to cut in the past two years. Frankly, I’m deeply, deeply troubled that misguided state priorities have forced us to turn away so many who desperately need our services during such dark economic times.
Naturally, as we have for the last three years of this crisis, we’ll continue to protect our employees to the greatest extent possible. I remain proud that we’ve been able to keep our contract employees safe from layoffs and salary reductions throughout these dark days.