BC officials discuss budgeting during the COVID-19 pandemic

Mariah Arviso, Reporter

Bakersfield College held a virtual online budget forum on May 4 to discuss the future of BC and its budgeting for classes.  

The panel consisted of speakers Mike Giacomini, Steven Holmes, and Teresa McAllister, and hosted by BC president Sonya Christian and Todd Coston. Christian started off the forum with an update about BC’s future regarding online and on-campus classes and how they will be organized due to COVID-19.  

With shelter in place order still in effect, BC will continue to offer classes online only. There was discussion about classes that need hands-on training, such as EMT classes, that could be slowly moving to in-person training, while also following the rules of social distancing.  

BC has seen a decrease in student enrollment for classes. There was an 18 percent decrease for summer enrollment rates and a 14 percent decrease for fall enrollment rates for 2020 compared to statistics from 2019. Christian and her team believed this is due to the confusion or uncertainty following the online class format.  

“As professors using canvas, go ahead and reach out to your students, and let them know what is going on in your department. Maybe give them some suggestions as to what classes they should take, and encourage them to enroll. They may just need a little more time to get used to the online format,” budget committee member Teresa McAllister said.  

Bakersfield College will receive $12.2 million from the federal CARE Act, 50 percent of the fund will be distributed to students who qualify for extra financial aid. BC’s budget committee has not been informed as to how they are allowed to use the other 50 percent. 

“It’s important to keep in mind that a lot of our funding, not only just our general and restricted funding but a lot of our categorical, [is] based on the number of students we have enrolled,” Vice President of finance and administrative services, Mike Giacomini said.  

In order to prevent the budget from increasing, district offices and colleges decided to put into place a hiring freeze. The main goal of the budgeting committee was to keep budget rates flat and look for opportunities to save. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, savings on travel expenses and utility bills have allowed for more money to be saved while the campus is closed.  

Although there was a decrease in student enrollments, there has been no discussion regarding layoffs and furloughs for employees.  For 2020-21, the adopted budget for salary and benefits for employees totaled to $13,756,704 million. The adopted ending budget for 2019-20 totaled to $46,519,339 million. These numbers are subject to change over the next month.  

As of May 4, all classes will continue to be online until further instruction from the California State Governor and President Christian.