Streamlining Higher Education

Andrew Cortes / el Don
Andrew Cortes / el Don

By: Katie Porter

Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed $1 billion boost aims to graduate students faster

[dropcap]A[/dropcap] proposed $1 billion funding infusion for California community colleges could end up costing the district more than it receives.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s state budget emphasizes the economic benefits that come from investing money into higher education.

Funds will be divided between the state’s 72 districts, which gives Rancho Santiago Community College District about $33 million.

The majority of that sum, however, is the state paying back IOUs to colleges. About 42 percent of the educational budget is new money, and it comes with strings attached. The $10 million allocated for equipment, maintenance costs and supporting student success requires the district to match funds with resources of its own.

[quote]“The irony is that guidelines require that if the state gives you $1 of new money, the district has to spend an additional $3 on the program,” said Peter Hardash, vice chancellor of business operations and fiscal services.[/quote]

Brown, who wants to graduate students faster, said money for the student success program will help push people along.

The budget proposal allots the district about $2.5 million for the Student Success Program, which will help hire more counselors.

Student Rachel Rangel has experienced how inadequate counseling resources affect students. After enrolling at Santa Ana College, several counselors gave her conflicting information.

“I ended up taking five classes that I didn’t need. Counselors need to … take their time with you for more than ten minutes,” Rangel said.

The new funds will add two full-time counselors to SAC in the fall, Dean of Counseling Micki Bryant said. The program also requires that all registering students attend orientation and create an education plan.

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But with the current match requirement, the district would have to invest $7.5 million of its own reserves to pay for those services.

“We don’t have that money,” Hardash said, but added that it’s typical for budgets to undergo revisions before being passed at the end of the fiscal year.


Brown’s Budget at a Glance

LOCALLY: Santa Ana College could gain as much as $23 million if the budget is passed.
SUPPORT: Some funds are allocated for student services to close the equity gap.
COSTS: The state requires SAC to spend three times its funding, costing about $7 million.

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