State Community College System Faces Big Cuts

State's Community College Budget Could Be Cut By Roughly $400M

Community college administrators are waiting to hear how state legislators will impact next year's budget at eight San Diego-area colleges.

Grossmont, Cuyamaca, Southwestern, Palomar, San Diego City, Mesa, MiraCosta and Miramar colleges will have their budgets slashed by millions this year, but each school won't know how much money will be cut.

State legislators in Sacramento Wednesday debated whether to send a tax extension benefiting community colleges statewide to voters on the June ballot. If voters approve the extension, California's community college budget will be cut by roughly $400 million -- or what some consider a best-case scenario.

"If this doesn't pass, we're looking at situations that we're calling 'dire' and 'Armageddon' for this district," said Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District Chancellor Dr. Cindy Miles.

Community college administrators said no tax extension would mean the worst cuts in 50 years. Local community colleges have 300,00 students, four times as many students as the University of California, San Diego; San Diego State University and California State University San Marcos combined.

Budgets for each local community college could be cut by $12 million or more. For some schools, that's more than 10 percent of their entire budget.

Students 10News spoke to said it's a lose-lose situation.

"Either way that you look at it, it's still a bad thing. It's still more money that we're going to lose and more money that's not being put into higher education," said Southwestern College ASO Vice President Nick Serrano.

Cuts in previous years were hard for many schools. Southwestern College was forced to cut 400 course offerings, while Grossmont and Cuyamaca Colleges cut more than 1,000. The schools expect to cut more this summer.

"We're cutting 600 more courses over this next academic year. That's our best-case scenario. You can imagine how far it's going to have to go," said Miles.

All the schools are preparing for multiple budget loss scenarios.

"I think it's fair to say that you will definitely see some changes. There will be less resources available from the state to do the kind of things that we like to do for this community," said Southwestern College spokesman Chris Bender.

"The reality is it's going to be bad," said Serrano.

Legislators were expected to work well into Wednesday night before rendering a decision.

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