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GCC eliminates winter classes

January traditionally is a busy time at Glendale Community College, with students returning from the holiday break for an intensive six-week winter session designed to help them earn credit and accelerate their studies.

But the campus will remain mostly quiet this month after officials eliminated winter classes as a cost-saving measure amid ongoing state cuts to education funding. It is the first time Glendale Community College has not offered the session since it was introduced in 2002.

Classes will resume with the start of the spring semester on Feb. 13.

“There are students on campus, but significantly fewer when compared to this time last year,” President/Supt. Dawn Lindsay said. “I have seen new students in the admissions line as many realize the earlier they get enrolled and through the matriculation process, the sooner they will be able to register for spring.”


The Glendale campus has plenty of company. According to a survey conducted last year by the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, 24% of college districts that responded said they had eliminated their 2012 winter session entirely. Another 24% said they significantly reduced the number of winter session classes offered.

Summer session and winter session traditionally have been when students would make up courses that they couldn’t get in the fall and spring semesters, said Paige Marlatt Dorr, director of communications with the Chancellor’s Office.

But after absorbing more than $500 million in cuts this year alone, colleges are being forced to scale down enrollment by reducing the number of core sections they offer.

During the 2010-11 school year, enrollment in California community colleges stood at 2.6 million students, Dorr said, compared to 2.9 million students in 2008-2009. The dip has nothing to do with demand, and everything to do with students being turned away, she said.


“Really, what is happening with higher education in California [ is that it] is being rationed,” Dorr said. “The colleges are having to make difficult decisions when they are receiving cuts.”

That’s a concern for students like Travis Smith, who said that he was able to get into only one class at Glendale Community College last semester.

“I could have taken so much more and been so much farther ahead,” Smith, 18, said.

Nearby Pasadena City College has been able to preserve its winter and summer sessions, thanks in part to a healthy financial reserve, said spokesman Juan Gutierrez. The college already is serving many more students than it is reimbursed for by the state, leaving little room for those who might have been squeezed out at other campuses, he added.

“Because of our enrollment policies, our students have first crack at winter and summer classes, so we don’t see a lot of displaced students from GCC and elsewhere,” Gutierrez said.

Los Angeles Pierce College in Woodland Hills offered an abbreviated winter session last year before doing away with it altogether, said spokeswoman Doreen Clay. It is one of five campuses within the nine-college Los Angeles Community College District that is not offering January classes.

“Budget cuts are the reason — each year it has been cut more, until this year it is no more,” Clay said.

At Glendale Community College this week, many administrators and counselors were at work and the student bookstore was open. But the students on campus mostly were limited to athletes on their way to practice, and those paying fees and conducting other administrative tasks.


“Although we know we are not alone, it is hard to explain to a student they cannot get a class they need to transfer, or to complete a certificate, because the sections are either full or we had to temporarily cut the course,” Lindsay said.