Colleges lose about 10% of fall classes

COSTA MESA — Coast Community College District trustees approved a tentative budget this week that cuts about 10% of classes across its three colleges in order to help fill in a $15.5-million budget gap.

The district unanimously accepted its 2011-12 budget Wednesday night.

Modifications could be added to the final budget that the board will vote on in September.

"This has been a most challenging year for our budget development," said Andrew Dunn, vice chancellor of administrative services. "I'm very confident in the foundation we built our tentative budget on."

Board President Jerry Patterson said no one is comfortable with the budget in terms of growth, but their hands are tied.

"It's the best we can do," he said.

The district has been tracking three state budget scenarios. It has based the tentative budget off the middle-of-the-road plan that assumes the governor's proposed tax extension measures will not happen, but Proposition 98 will not be suspended, Dunn said.

The state Legislature approved a budget Wednesday night, but Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed it Thursday, so the financial picture for the state's community colleges remains uncertain.

In Coast's proposal, the biggest savings, about $3.9 million, came from cutting about 10% of classes for the fall semester at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, Golden West College in Huntington Beach and Coastline Community College in Fountain Valley.

The colleges plan to instruct 10% fewer students come fall, but the district has the flexibility to bring back classes depending on what happens at the state level, Dunn said.

OCC's offerings were cut by 13%, or 263 classes, compared to last fall.

Golden West lost 11%, or 110 classes, and Coastline was axed by 8%, or about 100 classes.

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