BC Pres. speaks about budget

Patricia Rocha, Reporter

Bakersfield College president Sonya Christian discussed Gov. Brown’s budget proposal that increases community college funding.

If this budget proposal is finalized, an additional $197 million will be invested in community colleges statewide.

“We’ve had significant budget cuts, so in no way does it make up for the reductions of the past, but it is a better forecast than I was anticipating,” Christian said. “So that’s definitely on the positive side.”

She said the additional money would go towards restoring some of the classes that have been cut in the past.

“We will also continue to fine tune our degree programs and our certificates so the courses are well aligned and focused,” she said.

“We are also looking at efficiencies,” she said, citing the curriculum systems called CurricUNET and DegreeWorks the college is currently using.

She said the college is looking at curtailing costs and trying to increase revenue streams.

“I think we are doing all the right things,” she said.

“We’re optimistic in the increase in state appropriation in the governor’s proposed budget.”

Though this money isn’t yet guaranteed, she feels there is a good chance this budget proposal will be finalized and the money will be there for the college to improve itself.

“Now [the proposal] has to go through the process before things are finalized and sort of shakeout,” she said.

“In addition to the $197 million, there are other pieces that will help community colleges. For example, there are going to be dollars that are focused to making our buildings energy efficient in terms of retrofitting and renovation.” She also talked about Gov. Brown’s focus on improving online education.

“Brown is looking at strategically using online as a tool to increase the number of students transferring and continuing on the degree pathways,” she said. “They’re also looking at investing in workforce programs which we will try to position Bakersfield College to tap into those categorical dollars that might be coming our way.

According to a recent press release, California Community Colleges chancellor Brice W. Harris has said that the college system has already laid the groundwork for the governor’s online education plan that would “create a centralized ‘virtual campus’ that brings together several existing distance education services into a single hosting system with a 24/7 support center for students,” as well as “expand options for students to obtain college credit by challenge exams for core courses as well as remedial courses.”

Other positive effects of the budget proposal include focus on workforce development and expanding resources for clean energy job training.

“We view this budget proposal as a vote of confidence in our ability to provide workforce training and basic skills instruction to adult learners, and we look forward to conversations on ways to better serve these populations,” said Harris.