California Community Colleges Boost Summer Programs, Thanks to More Funding

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California Community Colleges Boost Summer Programs, Thanks to More Funding
After two dismal summers with few courses to choose from, California community colleges are back in action this summer with plenty of offerings for their students.

For several years, students at California community colleges have been unable to take advantage of the summer months to get ahead by taking a few extra classes. Budget cuts in recent years have forced many schools in the state to cut their summer offerings to a bare minimum, while a few have had to cut summer classes completely. Now, thanks to the passage of Prop 30, community colleges in the state are finding the money to beef up their summer course schedules, much to the delight of students hoping to spend their summer months deep in their studies.

Survey Shows More Classes on the Way

The Los Angeles Times reports on an informal survey conducted by the office of statewide Chancellor Brice W. Harris, which involved 70 California community colleges. The survey indicated that 67 percent of the community colleges in the state plan to increase their course offerings for the summer semester. Another 23 percent said they would offer the same number of classes they had on the schedule during the previous summer. Only 7 percent of community colleges in the state stated they planned to reduce the number of courses they would offer this summer.

Credit for the increases essentially goes to the passage of Proposition 30 last November, which granted a temporary increase in sales tax and income tax on the wealthiest residents in the state. The increased revenues are going directly to fund education, with about $210 million in addition funding going to community colleges for the 2012-2013 academic year. While colleges across the state welcome the money, it isn’t making much more than a dent in the $1.5 billion budget hit the schools took between 2007 and 2012, according to Mercury News.

Still, adding classes this summer is exciting news for many California community college students struggling to fill their class schedules and advance toward their degrees. Marisa Magallanes, student body president at Sierra College, told the Sacramento Bee that she has enjoyed priority enrollment due to a physical disability. However, she says it hasn’t been easy for some of her classmates.

“I hear stories from other students that it was tough,” Magallanes told the Bee. “They’d have to take a semester off, or they would go to three different schools just to get a full course load.”

Locating the Extra Classes

The Sacramento Bee reports that the Woodland Park Community College District plans to increase its summer course load by 43 percent, equaling 13 additional classes. Sierra College is bumping its summer catalog by 60 percent, translating to 136 more courses. Mercury News reports that Chabot College will add 50 more classes over last summer’s load, and the four Peralta colleges will combine 70 more offerings.

One of the most significant increases in summer offerings will be found at Los Angeles Pierce College. This school plans to increase its summer course list by 263 percent. Growth will take the school from about 50 math and English classes last summer to a full curriculum of more than 200 classes running the gamut regarding subjects. Anna Davies, vice president of academic affairs for Pierce, told the Los Angeles Times that the classes, which won’t begin for several weeks, have nearly filled with more than 6,000 students already enrolled.

“My hope is it’ll allow those students who need just one or two classes to finish without staying for another full semester,” Davies told the L.A. Times. The summer session may be the first opportunity for first-time high school graduates to enroll for classes, so it’s going to help on both ends of the pipeline.”

Diablo Valley College in Contra Costa County also plans to offer 122 more classes this summer. Math selections will be particularly robust, with everything from high school geometry to differential equations making the summer catalog. The college has already been advertising the course offerings scheduled to begin in June, and it is pleased to provide students with positive choices after meager offerings for the past two years.

One of the departments happiest about the additions at Diablo Valley is the horticulture department, which has been forced to shut down the past two summers. This has left no one on the campus to care for the plants grown by the students during the regular school year. Those not sold in the spring often meet a dire end during the long summer months. Students are also pleased to spend their summer months working in the horticulture department this year.

According to The Reporter, Solano Community College is also planning to increase summer classes. This school announced it will beef up its catalog for a “robust summer session.” The school has four campuses where students can find the new summer class offerings.

In addition to more summer classes, many community colleges in the state also have plans to provide more options for students heading to class this fall. However, college officials in the state warn that while the schools are enjoying an upward trend, they still have a long way to go.

“While the increase in summer courses is a positive trend, it will take years for the community college system to make up for the $1.5 billion in cuts that forced colleges to turn away 600,000 students over the past five years,” Chancellor Harris told The Reporter. “We are not out of the woods by a long shot.”

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