Trustee meeting predicts dire cuts

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The SMCCCD Board of Trustees adopted the final form of the 2011-2012 district budget in their bi-monthly meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 21.

The budget projected a bleak outlook for Skyline College, CSM, and Canada College, all of which are already struggling with program cancellation and rising costs among the current financial situation. The budget projected that future restrictions on programs will be unavoidable in the near future, and basic aid may be required to maintain operation.

Among possible scenarios where the district would be subject to cuts is the situation in which the state’s “trigger” systems are enacted. Separated into tiers one and two, the cuts would be triggered if sufficient state revenue is not generated. Tier one merits a $30 million cut from the district, while tier two would bring a $102 million cut.                  Board Vice President and Clerk David Mandelkern voiced his concerns over the district’s financial future, questioning the district’s ability to maintain three campuses amid rampant fiscal challenges.

“Given the ongoing budget cuts, how is it feasible to keep three functioning campuses, less than one million away from basic aid?” asked Mandelkern to the other board members. “Even a major earthquake could do us in.”

Fellow board member and Executive Vice Chancellor Kathy Blackwood fielded his question, feeling that the basic aid would be a useful fallback in keeping the district functioning.

“If we have cuts next year, which we probably will, hopefully the ba sic aid will help” said Blackwood. “We’re doing well compared to a lot of other districts.”

Some programs which have already been marked for discontinuation include CSM’s American Sign Language classes, which CSM President Michael Clair said, “Will be cut [ASL] permanently.”

While Skyline’s own sign language program remains intact, the campus’ child care program is under threat of discontinuation. The board of trustees will have a special meeting to discuss possible means to avoid cutting the program during their next study session on Oct 12.

Despite the dire situation faced by the district, an extension on fee increases was also enacted. Under the revised date, fees will be increased from $36 to $46 in June of 2012, as opposed to their original start date of January 2012. The final form of the district’s budget is available online on the SMCCD Board of Trustees page, under the Sept. 21 board packet section. Meetings and study sessions are open to the general public, and dates are also available on the website.