The Las Positas College tuition cost is in no immediate danger of rising, but that is not necessarily a good thing.
On Jan. 10, 2013, Governor Jerry Brown released his budget plan for the 2013-14 fiscal year, a budget that he called the “live within our means budget.” A major point of emphasis in this new budget is the freezing of community college tuition costs, which at first glance seems like a purely positive stance. However, “we have to be cautious,” said Sarah Thompson, LPC sociology professor and member of the District Budget Study Group.
This new budget plan offers Las Positas the funding to replace some classes lost in the past four years. But there is a fear that state funding will diminish and when that happens, someone will have to pick up the pieces.
“When access to money decreases,” Thompson said, “things have to be cut.”
And according to Thompson, high cost programs would be under the greatest threat of cuts. These high cost programs include what the state call “activity courses,” courses like Physical Education and Arts, among others.
“Often,” Thompson said, “it’s not necessarily the classroom that suffers the most, but the support systems outside the class.”
In that support system, there are already visible financial shortcomings on the LPC campus.
Ironically, LPC cannot afford to employ the Career Center, and the campus library has seen a significant drop in funding. Evidence of that drop can be seen in the library’s lacking hours of operation.
Another program that Thompson said is being targeted by the state is the CalWORKS program.
“The CALWORKS program,” said the CalWORKS coordinator Michelle Zapata, “helps students on public assistance.”
This assistance, according to Zapata, “goes towards child care and work studies.”
The goal of this additional assistance is to provide things like daycare for the children of students on this program. This is in hopes of allowing the student more time for school and in turn a quicker graduation and a shorter stint on state funded support.
Possibly the biggest shortage, however, is in the Counseling Office. The shortage of counselors and counseling hours is such that students often have to wait months before receiving assistance.
“It’s really hard to see a counselor,” said undeclared freshman Dustin Gomez. “I haven’t been able to get a full schedule yet, because of my low priority number.”
Because Gomez has not yet sat down with a counselor and formed an education plan, his priority number and in turn his ability to get classes he wants and needs are affected.
The governor’s new budget plan is not entirely a sleight-of-hand ruse, however.
The replacement of past removed courses is an encouraging sight, as students will find it easier to register in their necessary classes.
There were also several threatening propositions on this budget plan that were vetoed.
“There were some very controversial things that did not end up being a reality,” Thompson said.
It is Thompson’s opinion that most of what would have been really hard for this campus, “we got out of,” such as things funded based on the performance of the school and its individual programs.
“These are not just the ideas (of the governor) alone,” Thompson said. “There is a sizeable population in our legislature who would like to see major change. We have to be ever vigilant.”