Money matters at SMC

Last year, California community colleges were one of the public sectors that were on the front line of state budget cuts. But it appears that this year may not be quite as bad as had previously been forecasted. Theresa Tena, director of fiscal policy for the Community College League of California, explained that in terms of the new 2010-2011 budget, community colleges did reasonably well in specific areas like enrollment growth where the state added $129 million. However, schools may have to wait a while before they see that money because of the funding cash deferral the school received.

This means that the general air of optimism that is currently being felt in public education could quickly evaporate when the budget is finally put into practice.

"Instead of getting the money by the end of June 2011 they will receive it in July of 2011 which is the start of the next fiscal year," Tena explained. "It's a sort of accounting gimmick to achieve one time savings."

"You have to remember that last year's budget was passed in a time where there was a tremendous amount of economic uncertainty," said Tena. "We are coming off last year's revenue decline, which resulted in an eight percent cut to the community colleges."

This cash deferral will help the state not put out as much money in 2010-2011. It also means that instead of getting the money for growth enrollment right away, the colleges will have to front the money until the start of the next fiscal year.

The money that the school will receive will be enough only to reduce the number of students who may be on a wait list. Tena explained, "There is no way that we can meet all the demand we've been seeing."

According to Tena this isn't so bad. "We did relatively ok compared to the other areas of the budget." She added, "We didn't get cut like the other areas of education, like K-12," which is projected to lose roughly $3 billion in the 2010-2011 budgets.

Santa Monica College Vice President Randal Lawson also feels that given the circumstances, Santa Monica College was not forgotten. He explained, "We feel that governor Schwarzenegger did a good job acknowledging community colleges and protecting them."

In regards to the uncertain future of education funding, Lawson said that, "signs are pointing to recovery." Education did not completely lose out in this year's budget.

It is estimated that the University of California and the California State University systems are going to receive $200 million to make up for last year's deficit and enough money to cover the projected enrollment growth.