Colleges revive summer school with Prop. 30 funds

Fresno City College is adding additional summer courses this year thanks to renewed state funding.Fresno City College is adding additional summer courses this year thanks to renewed state funding.Colleges across the Valley are bringing back needed summer courses from the chopping block after budget cuts came calling a few years ago.

California’s community college system lost nearly $1 billion in state support from 2007 to 2012. As a result, 60 percent of summer classes across the state were sacrificed.

Now, aided by funding from the recently passed Proposition 30 tax increase, community colleges are now working with an additional $210 million in revenue this year to restore some of those courses.

College of the Sequoias is set to offer around 40 classes at its main campus in Visalia and another 20 at its Hanford center this summer thanks to a one-time restoration payment of $360,000 from Prop. 30.

While not the 120 to 150 before the economic crisis, President Stan Carrizosa said it’s at least a rebound from the prior two years when the college decided to suspend summer classes until reliable financing was available.

“It’s good for everybody,” he said. “Our students need it, staff will take the opportunity for additional time to work, so it has some benefits all the way around.”

He added that the new Tulare campus, which opened in January, is on track to add summer classes in 2014 since Prop. 30 will also assure no further cuts.

Accounting for just around 5 percent of its some 12,000 students, summer classes are still in high demand at College of the Sequoias in Visalia, leading to wait lists and priority registration reserved for returning students in good academic standing.

Carrizosa said the summer classes, beginning in the first part of June, are a breath of fresh air for students who had to travel to more distant colleges in Fresno, Reedley and Porterville if they needed to beef up their units between the regular semesters.

“With only 60 classes, there aren’t a lot of everything, but there are a few more of the math, English, social studies and transfer courses than there are some of the supplemental classes or peripheral classes,” he said.

Proposition 30 has also allowed the college to work down its deficit, going from $4.5 million in the red before the voter-approved initiative passed last November to $1.7 million today.

West Hills Community College District is another system that was helped by Prop. 30, going from 20 different summer class sections at its Coalinga campus last year to around 33 this summer. Its Lemoore campus has held somewhat steady at 55.

Keith Stearns, associate vice chancellor of academic and information services, said that’s nothing compared to the 250 or so in years past, but it's a step in the right direction to give students more options.

“Our classes usually will fill up with around 30 seats each,” he said. “We usually turn students away. We had quite a bit extra when College of the Sequoias had their summers closed.”

Many students can also take their summer classes online, he added, while students attending the district’s center in Firebaugh can link up to Coalinga classes via videoconferencing.

Enrolling some 5,000 students at all three sites, West Hills Community College District also added about100 classes for its spring semester thanks to a $324,000 payment from Prop. 30.

That included some 60 classes at the Lemoore campus and another 40 at Coalinga, as well as additional classes at in Firebaugh and online classes.

 “The money goes to pay for salaries for additional adjunct faculty assignments," said the district's Chancellor Frank Gornick. “It will provide our students with more options and pave the way for them to finish their certificate training or complete their transfer credits and move on with their educational pursuits.”

Fresno City College is offering 150 summer class sections this year compared to around 142 last year.

Vice President of Instruction Tim Woods said no specific funding amount has come down from Prop. 30 yet, but courses held pretty steady last summer with some cancellations due to low enrollment.

With summer classes always in high demand, however, he said students should expect some wait lists for core courses and get a head start on registration before 10-week summer classes begin May 28. The more popular 6-week program starts June 17.

“We always advise our students to get in and talk to counselors and get their educational plan,” he said “Educational planning is a huge benefit for students.”

Reedley College, originally intending to offer 80 class sections this summer, since expanded to more than 160 class sections at its main campus in Reedley and centers in Oakhurst, Madera and Fresno thanks to Prop. 30 prospects. The college had cut 127 total classes in the 2011-12 school year compared to the year before.

Fresno State announced it would offer a total of 142 classes this summer. Last summer, the university enrolled a total of 2,245 students for summer classes compared to 22,565 in the fall.