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Hundreds protest outside college district headquarters

Demonstrators gather Wednesday evening, some urging the district to look at its budget and bring back canceled classes.

May 03, 2012|By Britney Barnes
  • OCC students Kaitlin Kessman, middle, and Matt Jachowicz, right, join hundreds of other students, teachers, and classified workers to demonstrate against the cutting of classes and other decisions by Coast Community College District on Wednesday.
OCC students Kaitlin Kessman, middle, and Matt Jachowicz,… (DON LEACH, Daily…)

Chants of "Enough is enough" and "More classes, fewer managers" rose above the after-work traffic Wednesday night as protesters filled the sidewalks around Harbor Boulevard and Adams Avenue in Costa Mesa.

Adults waved signs stating "Preserve classes, no executive raises" and "Do not kill our future, educate us," while one girl clutched a sign with "My future matters."

About 200 current and former faculty, staff and students, along with community members, rallied along the streets around and in front of the Coast Community College District's headquarters to express their concerns about budget cuts and reduced course offerings.

"Our message today to the board is to put students first," said Dean Mancina, president of the Coast Federation of Educators.

The demonstrators gathered from the Golden West, Orange Coast and Coastline colleges in hopes of persuading the district to take a hard look at its budget and find the money to bring back canceled classes.

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"We really need to help our students," said Gregg Carr, a full-time professor at Golden West. "We're cutting classes, and we really need to help our students succeed."

"When they are cutting, why are they cutting us?" asked Golden West student Habib Miranda, 25.

Faculty and staff expressed concerns about transparency, hiring managers instead of instructors and how the district spends its money. Specifically, employees are upset over a board resolution asking employees to take a 3% cut next year to stave off layoffs, and the individual raises of $15,000 to $16,000 recently given to several top district administrators.

Removed a few feet from the scene, district trustees watched the rally after talking to demonstrators.

Board President Jim Moreno said everyone has a right to express themselves, but he wished it could be "piped" to Sacramento. Still, the board wants to hear the concerns, he said.

"We will work with our people and listen to what they have to say," he said.

The board sat grim-faced as the demonstrators made their way to the podium one by one during public comment.

The protesters filled every seat, stood up against the walls and spilled out into the lobby.

OCC math instructor Eduardo Arismendi-Pardi urged the board to take the protesters seriously and make decisions on behalf of students, not numbers.

"I hope you find it within yourselves to think and act how you would with your own personal family and loved ones," he said.

britney.barnes@latimes.com

Twitter: @britneyjbarnes

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