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COLLEGE OF THE CANYONS : Official Decries Funding Shortfall

With a 20,000 enrollment projected by 2010, College of the Canyons’ ability to serve students is threatened by a lack of state funding, a top college official told community leaders recently.

In what amounted to a crash course on the status of the community college in the Santa Clarita Valley, Dianne G. Van Hook, the college’s superintendent-president, told business, educational and political representatives during a breakfast meeting that the state is not responding fast enough to the college’s predicament.

“We know that our enrollment demand is between 22% and 30% more than we can accommodate,” Van Hook said. “It’s not that we don’t have the facilities. We could accommodate 30% more people; we just don’t have the money from the state.”

Van Hook said a $4.9-million shortfall in state funds over the last three years has left the college unable to offer more classes. This resulted in 2,200 of the 6,400 students at the school being unable to obtain classes they needed, Van Hook said.

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Fall enrollment increased 71% between 1986 and 1990. With an enrollment of 20,000 projected for 2010 and “a zero possibility” of becoming a four-year university, Van Hook said she fears that lack of funding will seriously effect classroom availability for both new and returning students.

“The average age at the college is 30,” Van Hook said.

She said the age group that has increased the most is students over 40, now representing 14% of the student body.

“A lot of people are being turned back to us from the work force,” Van Hook said. “We are retreading human beings with respect to their careers.”

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Van Hook also said the college lacks key facilities such as a planned $6.7-million library and a $7.3-million fine arts building.

In all, nine more buildings and two additions are needed at the school between now and 1999 to accommodate student growth, according to college reports.

Seven projects could be built with the money from a proposed $900-million to $1-billion community college bill slated for next year’s ballot, Van Hook said. She called the bill’s passage critical to the college’s future.


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