Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Busy Summer Despite the Budget Limbo

A message from Chancellor Cindy L. Miles
Dear Colleagues,

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.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Summer brings fewer students but more construction

Rendering of the new student center at Grossmont College
EL CAJON – It’s summertime but the living is anything but easy at Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges, where building crews will take advantage of reduced traffic to tackle $38 million in construction projects.
            If there is an upside to budget woes significantly reducing summer enrollment, it is that the colleges are able to do construction jobs with less worry about disrupting classes or taking up parking spaces.
Reduced state funding has forced the colleges to cut by half the number of course sections offered this summer compared to last year. At Grossmont College, summer class sections have been cut from 210 in 2010 to 113 this year. Cuyamaca is offering 44 course sections this summer compared to 88 a year ago.  With fewer classes, enrollment has also been cut in half – about 3,100 students are attending Grossmont this summer and about 1,200 are at Cuyamaca.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Graduation at Grossmont Middle College High School

They knew they didn't fit in at their former high schools, but 38 students who graduated from Grossmont Middle College High School on Monday night showed they had found a place where they fit in at the high school located on the Grossmont College campus.

The high school is a joint program between the Grossmont Union High School Ditrict and Grossmont College. Students take high school and college classes concurrently, with some earning up to a full year of college credit.

Salutatorian Christian Smith said he felt like his fellow students and teachers were a second family after he decided to switch to Grossmont Middle College.

"We knew we didn't fit in," he said of himself and the other students who applied for the school. "We took the initiative to make a big change for a better future."

The numbers cited at Monday's graduation on the Main Quad at Grossmont College were impressive:
Average GPA: 3.77
Total college credits earned: 1,026
Average credits earned per student: 28
College acceptance rate: 89 percent
Internship hours (two years): More than 10,000

Congratulations to the 2011 class at Grossmont Middle College High School!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Deadline for Osher scholarships approaching

After several years as a stay-at-home mom with three young children, Vicki Watkins faced the prospect of going back to work after a marital split.
She struggled at first to make ends meet with a near-minimum-wage job as a retail clerk, and then decided with some trepidation to return to school. At Cuyamaca College, she found the support she needed – an on-campus job and financial aid, including a $1,000 Osher scholarship, made possible by donations and matching dollars from the Bernard Osher Foundation.
 “I am not sure where I would be in my life right now if I wouldn’t have met such caring and encouraging people that I have met here at Cuyamaca,” said Watkins, who will be graduating in June and transferring to San Diego State University in the fall as an accounting major. “Being that I am a single mother of three children, the Osher scholarship has helped relieve some of my financial hardship that I have faced by returning to school. It has also helped bring my family closer together by having the extra money to do the little things that make my kids smile.”