The City College of San Francisco, suffering bad hits to its reputation, enrollment, and revenue, is getting ready to make a series of cuts. Inside Higher Ed describes this as explicitly axing academic programs and faculty – i.e., another queen sacrifice.
The background should be familiar to readers: enrollment shortfalls, which translate to revenue declines. How big a shortfall?
Enrollment is down 35 percent since 2012, when the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges sanctioned City College for a wide range of financial and administrative problems. It currently enrolls the equivalent of roughly 21,000 full-time students, which is down from about 33,000 when the accreditation woes began. [emphases added]
CCSF won some short-term additional funding from the Bay Area, but:
the funding is due to expire soon, with some money drying up next year and all three funds gone by 2020. And the college is wrestling with how much to shrink — meaning cuts to the number of courses it offers and the numbers of instructors who teach those courses — amid losing more than a third of its students.
Cutting classes, cutting faculty.
“We are actively reducing the schedule,” said [Susan Lamb, City College’s interim chancellor], who was brought in last year and is City College’s fourth leader since the accreditation crisis began. “It’s a tough time. It’s a defining moment in the college’s history.”
Note that, as usual, the cuts some from the top. Faculty, or some, quoted instructors, are opposed to this move,
Faculty union leaders aren’t buying the administration’s argument that reductions are needed. The local chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, a national faculty union, said the college’s leaders now are doing the work of the “rogue” accreditor, the ACCJC.
Tim Killikelly, the chapter’s president and a political science professor at City College, said in a written statement that faculty pay levels are more than 3 percent lower than they were in 2007. He also criticized still-emerging plans by the college’s leaders to shrink City College by 26 percent, particularly given that the college now has substantial cash reserves. City College has $36 million in unrestricted reserves, according to the Fiscal Crisis and Management Team, a state agency tasked with assisting public colleges and schools.
This could lead to a labor action: “As a result, Killikelly said, 92 percent of the union’s members made the tough call to strike next week.”
Now, this is a somewhat unusual queen sacrifice. The Bay area is not losing population, unlike the northeast and midwest. A protracted accreditation battle is the main driver. But other factors are in play, especially looking ahead:
Leaders at the college also are contending with the possibility of an economic downturn, which always looms in California’s boom-and-bust cycle, as well as coping with demographic shifts in hyperexpensive San Francisco.
Yes, increasing income inequality poses a challenge to this community college’s survival.
“The city is becoming increasingly unaffordable for many of the demographic groups that have traditionally been the majority of the CCSF’s student population,” the state fiscal crisis team said. “Additionally, unlike the traditional characteristics of most CCSF students, the demographics of those moving into the city tend to be highly educated and employed in higher-paying and time-intensive jobs.”
I wonder if escalating wealth in the San Francisco area will alter the politics to oppose further support to CCSF.