GCC limps to a fall start

As the fall semester began Monday, Glendale Community College officials said they are preparing for what will likely be the toughest year in memory.

“I think for years we have always said, ‘This is the bad year,’” college trustee Ann Ransford said. “But this really is the bad year … Clearly, this is the worst it has ever been for us.”

The college has been forced to implement a series of multimillion-dollar cost-cutting measures — including scaling back class offerings and reducing staff pay — in order to sync expenditures with a 2011-12 operating budget of $83.5 million.

And looming mid-year cuts could prompt administrators to further reduce the budget by as much as $1.3 million. The state is also deferring roughly $17 million owed to Glendale Community College until the 2012-13 fiscal year, creating a serious cash-flow problem, said Ron Nakasone, vice president of administrative services.

“About a fourth of our funding now is coming in subsequent years,” Nakasone said. “It is like me telling somebody you are not going to get a paycheck for three months — you find a way to make it through those three months.”

Enrollment of full-time students during the 2010-11 school year totaled 16,780, Nakasone said, down from 20,056 the previous year. He attributed the decline to the reduction in the 2011 winter and summer sessions, among other factors.

The college will offer 1,772 classes this fall, a figure are on par with fall 2010, Nakasone said, But the winter 2012 session is slated to be eliminated, and spring 2012 will likely be reduced.

“We have taken the position of trying to protect our main semester from the budget cuts,” Nakasone said. “As a result, the majority of our cuts have been from winter and summer [sessions]. Fall has been pretty flat as far as class offerings over the last three years. Spring 2012 may be the exception to the rule.”

Officials said they are managing the current fiscal reality as best they can. Faculty members have made herculean efforts to accept as many students as can physically fit into their rooms, officials said.

“Our staff and faculty are pretty good at leaving those issues behind,” board Vice President Armine Hacopian said. “When they are in the classroom and they are teaching, that is what is critical at that time — the interaction between the instructor and the student.”

There are some bright spots to start the semester, however. Last week, the college opened its new expanded Garfield campus, home to its certificated and continuing education programs. The $22.8-million revamp was paid for by Measure G, a facilities bond passed by voters in 2002.

“I am delighted that the students attending there will be in a much better facility so that they can focus on their studies,” Hacopian said. “And I am hoping that similarities between campuses will help transfers between Garfield and our main campus.”

And the leadership at the college — under the helm of President/Supt. Dawn Lindsay — is functioning the best it has in several years, board members said.

“From my observation, I think we have the most compatible board we have had in years,” Ransford said. “I think we are all individuals, and have our own individual opinions … but as a whole, I think we work together and move in the same direction.”
 
 

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