No excuse for cuts

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District should take responsibility for college budget shortfalls.

Operating budgets at this college have been cut $4 million for the 2017-18 school year as a result of overzealous budgeting combined with steadily declining enrollment across the district.

The cuts affected departments across the college, reducing department spending to “essentials” and reducing the number of hours many staff and faculty members can work.

The effects are felt in missing work-study students and decreased travel opportunities. They’re felt in empty staff positions and missing newspaper pages.

Cuts this deep are difficult to salve.

Had district administration been more realistic from the start, the college may not be in this position.

Meanwhile, the board granted Chancellor Bruce Leslie a $12,094 raise this year — bringing his salary to $415,217 — with another $45,000 on the table for good behavior.

Vice chancellors and college presidents received raises of $6,469.71 in fiscal year 2018.

Why are student services suffering while our chancellor is earning enough cash to buy a small private island each year?

The board had an opportunity to allocate funds to this college to save the now-suffering programs, but opted not to.

Last year, the board pulled $5 million from the district fund balance to compensate for a hole in the budget but opted not to do so this year, citing their “frugal” use of funds as a reason for passing the burden of the budget deficit onto departments at this college.

“Frugal” spending doesn’t often result in negative money. 

Dr. Diane Snyder, vice chancellor for finance and administration, blamed the summer momentum plan for part of the deficit. Students took $3.1 million of free classes last summer because of the plan, she said.

Even if that number is accurate, it ignores the significant tuition increases introduced at the same time as the plan.

The board has recently pushed a narrative that enrollment is about to see a massive increase. They argued for a $450 million bond issue this year by claiming their colleges would soon be packed to capacity.

These cuts put the emptiness of their claims on full display.

Students should not have to take the consequences of administration not being able to follow through on hollow promises.

The board needs to budget appropriately and realistically, use funds from available sources and stop making excuses.

They need to act like adults who have been entrusted with the leadership of a massive community college district, where thousands of young people prepare for their futures.

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