If the state’s dereliction of duty when it comes to education funding wasn’t conspicuous before now, this week brought it to the fore when Glendale Community College officials announced during an emotionally charged meeting that they were planning to reduce expenses by $13 million.
Adding to the surprise was the fact that there was no real caveat — administrators plan to carry out the budget cut regardless of whether voters pass Gov. Jerry Brown’s state tax measure. One summer session will also be eliminated and staff medical benefits will be altered as part of the plan to reduce expenses.
Not helping the shock factor was the fact that the $13-million figure was so much higher than the previous forecast of $8 million in needed spending reductions.
At the meeting, Interim Supt./President Jim Riggs — the man brought on, in part, to help the college cope with its financial woes — said the campus was facing a “residual effect” of decisions made on the state level.
“Simply put, California's trying to do education — from preschool all the way up to post-doctoral work — on the cheap,” Riggs said.
That is certainly true, but what’s even more frustrating is the fact the institutions like Glendale Community College are largely hamstrung. They have such little control over boosting their own revenues, so the only budget tool they have left is cutting costs. If student demand was also decreasing, it would be proportional, but it’s not.
With the Cal State and UC systems becoming ever more competitive, more students are turning to community colleges. But if those campuses continue cutting back, students with nowhere else to turn for a post-high-school education will be left in the cold.
If lawmakers are allowed to short-change education funding, then “dereliction of duty” might as well be assigned to voters, and even more so to non-voters.