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More funding is only fair

June 08, 2005

Kenneth D. Yglesias

As chancellor at a community college district that receives less per

student in state funding than most colleges in the state, I was

thrilled that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger included $40 million for

equalization in his May revise budget.

That $40 million is an important second step in a multi-year plan

to equalize funding per student at every community college in the

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state, including several community colleges in Orange County that are

"underfunded" compared with colleges in other parts of the state.

For example, an Orange County family could have children attending

three different community colleges -- one playing football at Los

Angeles Harbor College in San Pedro, another going through the

Criminal Justice Training Center at Golden West College in Huntington

Beach, and another attending classes at Fullerton College.

All three may be enrolled in 15 units in a given semester. The

state of California reimburses Harbor $4,037 for that student's

attendance, $3,850 to Golden West College for its student, and $3,806

to Fullerton College for the student taking 15 units there.

Looking at this hypothetical situation from a macroeconomic

perspective, if each college had 10,000 full-time students attending

in a semester, it is easy to see how this disparity in funding

becomes an issue. Los Angeles Harbor College would be receiving

$40.37 million, Golden West would receive $38.5 million and Fullerton

College would get $38.06 million to provide the same level of

services to the same amount of students.

It is obvious that students at lower-funded districts are being

shortchanged.

The problem of inequitable funding goes back decades, and means

that students at our colleges receive a lower, unequal investment in

their education than do students in other areas of the state.

While our colleges are masterful at "doing more with less," this

disparity in funding does affect the number of course offerings and

the level of services we can provide our students.

I believe Orange County's students deserve the same level of

support as students in other parts of the state, and will continue to

fight to stop Orange County' s students from being shortchanged in

this way by fighting for funding equalization.

The 2004-05 state budget included the first $80 million to begin

equalizing these disparities. That first installment for equalization

brought $3 million in new, ongoing funding to the Coast Community

College District. This funding is now available to our three colleges

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