Enrollment to be slashed at Cuesta College

March 31, 2011

By KAREN VELIE

Cuesta College could turn away more than 3,000 students next fall because of stalled Sacramento budget talks.

“It is a disaster for the community,” said Cuesta College Marketing Director Stephan Gunsaulus who noted the cuts will affect current students, graduating high school seniors and people looking for job training after losing jobs. “There will be a ripple effect on the local economy if we have to cut jobs.”

Statewide, 400,000 students could be excluded from attending community college campuses in the fall because California lawmakers failed to place a tax extension on the June ballot, Community College Chancellor Jack Scott said Wednesday.

Gov. Jerry Brown was unable to get the two-thirds majority required to put the extension on the ballot, which would have required the votes of four Republicans. Sen. Sam Blakeslee, R-San Luis Obispo, sat on the Cuesta College Board of Trustees from 1998 to 2005.

With budget talks stonewalled, the community college 112-campus system faces an $800 million funding cut, nearly 10 percent of its total budget.

Cuesta College is bracing for two shortfall scenarios having to do with the possibility that the school may not receive Proposition 98 funding.

California Proposition 98 requires a minimum percentage of the state budget to be spent on K-14 education using a complex calculation which is economically driven. The Legislature has the power to suspend Proposition 98 with a two-thirds vote.

With Proposition 98 funding, Cuesta College is expecting to turn away about 2,000 students, dropping enrollment from 11,831 to about 9,831. In addition, 321 fewer classes will be offered.

Without Proposition 98 funds, about 3,164 students will be turned away from Cuesta College reducing enrollment to approximately 8,667 students. It is projected that 507 classes will be eliminated under the worst case scenario.

Last week, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that increases the fees at all 112 community colleges beginning in the fall 2011 semester from $26 to $36 per unit, a 38 percent boost.

The Legislative Analyst’s Office has recommended that policymakers consider increasing community college fees even further, from $26 to $66 per unit to offset some of the cuts to the community college system. An increase in fees of that magnitude could make it difficult or impossible for the state’s most vulnerable students to attend college.

“We know if you raise fees, fewer students go to college,” Gunsaulus said. “The bottom line is we have less offerings and more demand.”

On a positive note, Cuesta College is offering an unusually robust schedule this summer at $26 a unit.


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45 Comments

  1. The Gimlet Eye says:

    I disagree. Public education has NOT been “vital,” or a “good investment.” It has been a colossal failure, and there are plenty of “studies,” good books, and articles to back that up as well. You can start with Linda Gorman’s article if you like:

    http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/Education.html

    Here’s a sample to chew on:

    “In the 1980s, economists puzzled by a decline in the growth of U.S. productivity realized that American schools had taken a dramatic turn for the worse. After rising every year for fifty years, student scores on a variety of achievement tests dropped sharply in 1967. They continued to decline through 1980. The decline was so severe, John Bishop calculates, that students graduating in 1980 had learned “about 1.25 grade-level equivalents less than those who graduated in 1967.”1 Although achievement levels began to recover in 1980, the recovery has been weak and student achievement has yet to regain 1967 levels. By the turn of the century, conservative estimates of the economic growth lost due to the academic achievement decline were on the order of 3.6 percent of the 2000 gross national product.”

    Anything the government does, the free market can do ten, a hundred, and a thousand times better. Not only will throwing good money after bad not solve this problem, it will make it catastrophically worse! Or do you have such faith in our generations of public school “scholars” that you think they will be able to extricate us from this present economic mess? They are the ones who got us into this mess!

    (0) 4 Total Votes - 2 up - 2 down
  2. WiseGuy says:

    At the same time Cuesta administrators (and land developers) are pushing to spend millions of dollars to build a Cuesta campus in the South County.

    Isn’t this some type of horrendous and expensive contradiction? Dropping students but expanding buildings and related expenses to supposedly serve more students?

    We live in an increasingly insane world.

    (4) 6 Total Votes - 5 up - 1 down
    • The Gimlet Eye says:

      Yes, it is a “horrendous and expensive contradiction.” That’s why I am in favor of getting the government out of the education business once and for all. Otherwise, there will be no end to the boondoggles emanating from them.

      (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
  3. The Gimlet Eye says:

    What’s wrong with the students simply paying the full cost of the service they get?

    (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
    • WiseGuy says:

      The problem with that is that then most people could not afford college and our population will rapidly grow increasingly poorly educated and our entire nation will suffer for it.

      There is a strong belief, back up by studies, that contends that taxpayer money spent on educating people is an investment that actually, literally, pays off in the long run.

      Parents teach their children without the children having to fully pay for their parents time and effort. The parents easily see the value in teaching things to their children.

      Do we want to grow old in a nation where the young and able bodied, and the leaders are grossly more poorly educated than they are today? Where’s the payoff in that?

      (-1) 3 Total Votes - 1 up - 2 down
      • The Gimlet Eye says:

        WiseGuy, it is very tempting to think that way, but your suggestion flies in the face of good economics. Are the distortions and unintended consequences, the “blessings of destruction,” the boondoggles, the waste, the lost opportunity costs, the diversion of taxes, worth it? When I add it all up, I think not. What could have been done with that money had it not been diverted to the community colleges? It could have gone into private colleges where it would have educated students much more efficiently and profitably than this government system we have now, surely an albatross and destroyer of wealth if ever there were one.

        Education is a wonderful thing, but not at such a prohibitive cost to our freedoms. Surely the people of this great country can find the money to pay for their own education! For those who cannot, there are scholarships. Think of the money which could be freed up if this silly public education system were shut down! Then we would really see the power of free markets at work! Do not think that just because I criticize the present system that I am against “education” for the common man! Quite the contrary. But there is hardly a social need which cannot be met by free markets, if only the government busybodies would stay out of the way and allow it to happen.

        (-1) 3 Total Votes - 1 up - 2 down
        • WiseGuy says:

          Public Education is not “silly”. It is vital, and is a great investment. The more free education our nation can provide, the better. Public Education has been a tremendous benefit to the United States.

          Improving the public education system is important, of course. There is nothing a nation can do that is greater than providing free education and free healthcare. That is what makes a nation great and of benefit to the entire world.

          (-3) 3 Total Votes - 0 up - 3 down

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