Faculty leaders ready for cuts
Over the last few semesters, Bakersfield College has seen major budget cuts and it’s about to be hit with more.
The BC faculty is currently waiting to see if the worst-case scenario of losing 17.8 million dollars in funding is going to happen.
“If the governor’s tax proposal passes then that number [17.8 million] goes down to 13.2 million. It will help but not solve the problem,” said BC Performing Arts department chair and Academic Senate member John Gerhold.
The Academic Senate is a group of BC faculty that oversees 11 areas where decisions are commonly made in the college district, including budget issues.
This means that professors at BC will have a hand in deciding where these budget cuts will be made.
“We don’t get to pick how many dollars go where but we do get to decide how people decide,” said Gerhold.
BC gets roughly 66 percent of the budget for the entire KCCD.
The other two colleges in the district then get around 13 percent each and $10 million is spent on administration.
Gerhold thinks that the district should first look to making cuts in administration.
“Anything you do to cut courses is going to hurt students,” said Gerhold. “Anything that’s not a required course has already been cut.”
In the past, programs that the district feels are non-essential and student services have been hit in times of financial crisis. Most recently, the tutoring center had its funding reduced because of the state’s budget problem.
“Students should be concerned about class size [increasing]. Students should also be concerned about cuts to student services,” said Cornelio Rodriguez, political science professor and Academic Senate president.
Rodriguez then went on to explain that the Academic Senate is doing everything they can to work with the district and help students during this time.
“One thing we are concurrent on is keeping cuts away from students,” said Rodriguez.
At the last Academic Senate meeting Rodriguez was put in charge of organizing a forum for faculty and administration to come together to share information and opinions. The Academic Senate has already discussed solutions to the district’s money problems. One option being looked at is adjusting BC’s reserve funds.
California requires each community college to keep a reserve fund of at least five percent. BC is currently above the state guidelines at a 10 percent reserve. The idea of dipping into these funds until the current budget crisis is over and the economy stabilizes is popular among professors and hasn’t been met with opposition.
“We’re looking at all options,” said Rodriguez
Changes are also being made on the state level. One option California is looking at is raising the academic placement standards. By requiring students to meet higher standards in basic skills tests, colleges could eliminate lower-level required classes and free up money to use for other programs. This would certainly affect faculty at BC.
Going along with changes already made to the “W” grade, academic planning and financial aid, raising academic standards would put BC on a course that Rodriguez calls shifting from “access to success.”