Home News Thanks, but no thanks: Why community colleges are resisting $170 million – Cal Matters

Thanks, but no thanks: Why community colleges are resisting $170 million – Cal Matters

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Rarely are college bean-counters skeptical of receiving more money, but a plan to give California’s community college system hundreds of millions of dollars for faculty is dividing finance officials and professors.

For college financial officials, the new money would come at an inopportune time: Enrollment plunged across the 116-college system by 11% last fall as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. With fewer students to teach, financial officers worry that committing $170 million to hire 2,000 more full-time faculty now, per a budget blueprint approved by key legislative panels in late May, will lead to problems later.

“Excessive hiring in a declining enrollment environment can lead to painful budget reductions, layoffs, furloughs,” the association of community college financial officers wrote last week in a letter to top lawmakers in the Legislature’s budget committees. The financial officers would instead like the money to come with more flexibility.

Faculty grouse at that skepticism. They point to the college system’s decades-long inability to meet a quasi-mandate of having full-time faculty teach at least 75% of classes. Today that figure sits at 59% and has barely budged in three decades. The legislative largesse of $170 million is meant to drive the college system closer to that 75% goal, an aspirational benchmark that’s been on the community college system’s books since the 1970s.

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