California community colleges are starting the fall term on an upbeat note, with most boosting enrollment and the number of classes offered, according to a survey of the state’s two-year schools released Wednesday.
About 90% of the campuses reported higher enrollment than last fall and 84% are increasing course sections.
Of the state’s 112 community colleges, 95 responded to the survey from the chancellor’s office. Overall, enrollment is expected to increase by 2.5% and course sections by 5%.
The colleges represented a broad cross-section of the state, including Sierra College in Rocklin, which is increasing enrollment by about 5% and course sections by nearly 8%. About 254 course sections are being restored, opening 6,500 seats for students, said Sierra President William H.Duncan.
Meanwhile, College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita will offer winter and summer sessions this year, with increased classes.
It’s a far cry from the doom and gloom of a year ago when, amid severe budget cuts, nearly all colleges reported steep declines in enrollment and class offerings. Last year, more than 470,000 students began the fall term on waiting lists, with an average of about 7,157 waitlisted students at campuses that reponded to a survey.
This fall, an average of about 5,026 students are on waitlists for classes.
The community college system, the nation’s largest, has suffered about $1.5 billion in state funding cuts since 2007-08. Colleges have not climbed out of that hole, but voter approval last November of Proposition 30, which increased state sales tax and some income taxes mostly for education funding, has helped college budgets.
Community colleges received an infusion of about $210 million this year, with another $600 million approved in the 2013-14 state budget.
“The news is certainly much better at the beginning of this academic year than just one year ago thanks to the passage of Prop. 30,” Chancellor Brice W. Harris said during a telephone briefing with reporters. “There is more opportunity for students and more courses being offered this year than last."