College District looks to close budget gap

COSTA MESA — Coast Community College District officials took a first stab at closing a $7.6-million budget gap next year with off-the-cuff ideas that avoid workforce reductions.

The District Budget Advisory Committee, comprised of district and college officials, talked about ideas ranging from four-day schedules and furloughs, increasing the number of international students who pay higher tuition, leasing out Internet protocol (IP) addresses and creating district food trucks.

Orange Coast College President Dennis Harkins also pitched creating a kind of charter, for-profit accelerated college.

District Chancellor Andrew Jones led the brainstorming activities, which were the first step to creating the 2012-13 budget.

Jones said the idea was to get more discussion across the colleges — OCC in Costa Mesa, Golden West in Huntington Beach and Fountain Valley-based Coastline — and increase efficiency.

Some of the ideas will be explored and vetted, and may end up in the final budget, he said.

"I think it reinforced the fact that we have a lot of challenges, but we have a lot of the answers," he said.

The committee took a first look at what the budget might look like based on what is known from Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed budget, said Andy Dunn, the district's vice chancellor of finance and administrative services.

"You're certainly going to be hearing more about this in the coming weeks and months, and you'll be tired of hearing from me," Dunn said.

The proposal estimates the three colleges would have to step up to fill in the deficit, with OCC contributing $3.5 million, Golden West $2.1 million, Coastline $1.2 million and the district almost $700,000.

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