Budget crunch weighs on Glendale Community College

After lopping $6.8 million from its budget last year, Glendale Community College now faces a potential $7.75-million deficit that could trigger layoffs and the cancellation of hundreds of classes.

Ron Nakasone, vice president of administrative services, laid out the projections at a special board of trustees meeting Tuesday, where he described the college's 2012-13 budget as the most difficult he has ever seen.

Included in the looming $7.75-million deficit is $4.1 million the college will lose mid-year if Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative fails in the November election. The initiative could generate $313 million for California community colleges. Recent polling data shows public support for the initiative hovering just above 50%, Nakasone said.

“It is not giving us a whole lot of confidence that there is a real majority support of this initiative,” Nakasone said. “Right now, it is looking more like a coin flip, whether it is going to go or not.”

The college has been forced to dramatically downsize its budget in recent years, and will close out the 2011-12 school year with total expenditures of $76 million. That comes after a 5.5% reduction of class offerings and a hiring freeze that has left 100 campus jobs unfilled.

If the tax initiative fails, the college will be looking for concessions from its employee groups to the tune of $6 million, Nakasone said.

If, in a worst-case scenario, those concessions cannot be negotiated, the college would be forced to cancel 700 classes in spring 2013, eliminate the summer 2013 session altogether and issue layoff notices.

Without the employee concessions, Nakasone warned, “there is no way we are going to be able to balance this budget without layoffs.”

“There is no way we are going to be able to get around it,” he said.

The ramifications of the worst-case scenario would be enormous, said Mike Scott, president of the Glendale Community College Academic Senate.

“You are talking approximately 33,000 seats eliminated on this campus,” Scott said.

“It also means almost the elimination of all adjuncts on this campus. It means that the student education plans that a lot of these students are working hard on will go out the door because there just won't be classes to take.”

While some officials expressed uncertainty, Faculty Guild President Isabelle Saber was somewhat more optimistic about the governor's tax initiative. She said she expects a major mobilization in support of the initiative as the vote approaches.

“We are hoping to really redouble our efforts and make sure that the initiative passes,” Saber said. “I am hoping all constituent groups … can come together in order to campaign for this. It is really, really important that this passes, otherwise this college will not look the same anymore.”

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