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Community colleges to lose subsidies for athletes

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Recommendations for the 2011-12 state budget have been made, and athletic programs could be affected in the upcoming academic year.

In February, the California Legislative Analyst’s Office posted a number of suggestions for how California should handle its budget crisis. Spending on community colleges and public universities makes up a considerable portion of the state budget, and Governor Jerry Brown has proposed a reduction of $1.8 billion from the General Fund for higher education. About $55 million of it will come from state subsidies for community college athletics.

The suggestion appears on the LAO website with the simple recommendation that we “eliminate state funding for CCC intercollegiate athletics, for a savings of about $55 million in 2011-12.” However, a more detailed narrative of this proposal reveals that the recommendation is slightly more specific than that, and our sports teams aren’t directly at risk yet.

Currently, there are classes offered at Skyline and many other community colleges that are designed specifically for athletes, like Women’s Soccer Theory: Defense and Baseball Theory: Offense. The school claims apportionments for the “full-time equivalent students” that enroll in such classes, as they would for students who sign up for classes like math or science. The LAO is suggesting that the Legislature “prohibit colleges from counting these FTES for apportionment purposes,” and so the school would not be subsidized for them as they are for other students.

While this recommendation is not the end of community college athletics, it is cause for concern. Without enough state funding community college athletic programs probably wouldn’t be able to sustain themselves, like we have already seen with athletics at UC Berkeley. However, these reductions in subsidies are relatively small when compared to the vast amount the state plans to take away from the community college budget.

There were many other recommendations and findings recently posted by the LAO relating to the same issue of the amount of money allocated per student. Currently, the state supplies about $5,500 per community college student (illustrated in the graph on the left) but that amount will likely be reduced in the 2011-12 fiscal year. These cuts lead to higher fees for the students, as we have already seen with the proposed $10-per-unit increase.

In the graph above, it can be seen that the government expects students to be responsible for a higher percentage of their fees. The amount is proposed to increase to over 20% in 2011-12, compared to 10% in 2007-08. The trend is similar for the UC and CSU systems, so even students who will be transferring before next sememster could be impacted by these changes.

There’s no telling what the future holds for our athletic program and the future of affordable higher education in general, but the state government is clearly making strides to save money in any way possible. The reduction in funding is problematic today, but some cutbacks are imperative on the way to economic recovery.

Summaries of these proposals can be found at www.lao.ca.gov, under the “Products” tab.

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The student news site of Skyline College.
Community colleges to lose subsidies for athletes