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Coast approves $10 million budget hike

Community college district officials hope to increase full-time faculty under $238-million spending plan as economy improves.

September 06, 2013|By Hannah Fry

The Coast Community College District Board of Trustees unanimously has approved a $238-million budget — about $10 million more than last year.

Now that the district is recovering from budget cuts that plagued previous years, officials are feeling increased pressure to hire more full-time faculty members.

Vice Chancellor Andy Dunn presented to the board during its Wednesday meeting what he called a structurally balanced budget for fiscal 2013-14. This is the first year since 2007 that the board hasn't been forced into crippling budget cuts, according to budget documents.

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"When I came in at the end of 2008, it felt like I had the rug pulled out from under me," said board President Lorraine Prinsky. "For the first time, we're feeling that we're on a level field."

Dunn credited the improvement to Proposition 30, a temporary tax hike approved by voters in November, and prudent fiscal planning by the board and Gov. Jerry Brown.

This year's budget also restores categorical funding almost to the $600-million level seen in 2007. Categorical funding pays for support programs such as student financial aid and C.A.R.E, which aids single-parent students.

Beginning in 2008, categorical program funding was reduced to $376 million, which resulted in many programs being reduced by half and some being eliminated completely, according to a memo from Dunn to Chancellor Andrew Jones that was published in the budget.

"Statewide categorical program funding for the 2013-14 fiscal year stands at $584 million, restoring much of what was lost in the last six years," Dunn wrote.

Dean Mancina, president of the Coast Federation of Educators and a full-time faculty member at Golden West College, stressed to the board the urgency of hiring more full-time employees now that the district's fiscal outlook is improving. He said the district has relied too heavily on part-time faculty.

"For a community college of our size, we have one of the smallest full-time faculty teams in the state," he said. "The full-time faculty have been stretched to their limit."

Dunn agreed that hiring needs to be addressed.

"We're down well over 200 employees," Dunn said. "We're asking people to do a lot more with a lot less. There's a certain limit with that elasticity."

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