By Elizabeth Joy
Las Positas College could be under siege in the money department.
Governor Jerry Brown released the May revision of the state budget, which occurs annually every spring. This version reflects all changes that are made after the proposed budget is released in January. This is done so that the budget may calculate income tax revenue received by April 15 when income taxes are due.
The proposal made by governor Brown is more than problematic for the college and many others, according to Diane Brady, LPC’s vice president of administrative services. This proposal would implement changes in how colleges are funded.
The number of students served per college effects how funds are received, with the primary metric being Full Time Equivalent Students or FTES, explained Brady. This converts all student classes and hours into a comparable number, so that two students who take a half-time load would add up to one full time student or one FTES.
With the proposed budget, sixty percent is based on FTES and fifteen percent is based on economic need. The most controversial is the fifteen percent that is based on performance. In other words, that fifteen percent of funding is determined by completions and number of degrees within a set time.
Brady continued to say that though this worked well enough in the past, now the only way to increase funding is to add more students. With a decline in enrollment, as a lot of colleges are seeing fewer students, funding will go down.
Th reason for declining enrollment in community colleges is that more people are working with the economy being so strong. When unemployment is high, more people come to a community college for increased job skills.
Brady explained that there has been a need to rework the funding formula for some time, but the Governor proposed a very drastic change that will hurt more than half of all colleges statewide.
She feels that the intent behind these changes is good, seeking to reward colleges who serve those who are more disadvantaged economically. This creates incentives to obtain their degree, certificate or to transfer quicker.
But on the flip side, proposing such an intense change that involves billions of dollars, and with only a few months of time to implement it, puts many colleges at risk. Colleges could lose millions of dollars, which could create the layoff of employees.
The end result could possibly cause a lot of unintended consequences offsetting any improved outcomes.
“Most of the chief business officers and college presidents believe that a longer time is needed to adopt changes to ensure they work as intended and not harm colleges unnecessarily,” Brady said.
The recently released May revision incorporates some of the recommendations from college constituents that will improve the formula. However, the governor still plans on this going into effect beginning July 1.
The conclusion of this proposal is in the hands of the legislature, with both houses having to agree on a budget. They will then send it to the governor by June 15. He has until June 30, 2018 to sign it.
Brady said, “They tend to meet these deadlines now because they lose their pay if they don’t.”