Cerritos College tries to balance providing classes and staying afloat during tough recession

Daniel Green

Beginning in November, students have waited patiently for their registration dates to try to enroll in the classes they need for next semester.

In recent years students have had a hard time getting in to classes especially those considered to be “core classes” such as Math and English due to budget cuts stemming from the recession.

Do to the loss of money, the school cut the amount of classes they offered during the fall, spring and summer semesters.

While this has saved the school money some believe that the school has cut back too far on classes.

Soloman Namela, the president of the Faculty Union, recently brought a presentation to the Board of Trustees detailing the school’s finances, student enrollment and the number of sections offered.

“I have all along said that the recession started (around 2007), and you can see since the recession started you can see the full effects we felt in 2008-09, said Namela, and you can see a drop in (full-time students), what is more disturbing is the drastic drop in number of sections offered.”

According to the budget reports released by the college, the number of classes offered has dropped from 7,770 in 2008-09 to 5,910 in 2012-13.

The biggest factor for the college’s money woes has been the deferrals handed down by the state.

The college is financed by the state of California, which was going through its own financial troubles.

The state decided to deal with its money problems by “deferring” payments to the college which means the state was cutting the amount the college was supposed to receive annually.

The state eventually pays the college what it is owed but does so at a later date meaning the college has to stretch the money it has already.

“Well the state cut our funding and we lost about 16 percent of our funding in the last four years. All the colleges across the state had to do that,” said Cerritos College president Linda Lacy.

Since the cut in classes, the college’s budget reports show that the school’s reserve has been growing and is currently at around $33.9 million spread across different accounts.

Namela believes that the while the school is trying its best to deal with tough economic times it is not fully taking the needs of students in to account.

“I have always brought this up with Dr. Lacy and others that we are being so cautious with our money. We are going against the mission of the college in terms of serving students and offering sections.”

David El Fattal, Vice-President of Business Services, explained that the reserve the school has is being used like a family’s savings account and is still needed due to the economy.

“In previous years there were additional general funds monies that were set aside during the difficult economy that we (have) been through, said El Fattel, we haven’t gotten out of that difficult economy quite yet.”

He went on to explain that the reserves had helped the school from making tougher choices than it already had.

“It’s nice to have that money there so we don’t have to resort to more extreme things such as cutting services.”

Lacy also emphasized that Cerritos College is doing better financially than other colleges in the surrounding area.

“We didn’t cut our classes nearly as much as our surrounding colleges did and we didn’t lay off any of our full-time employees.”

The school’s reserves serve another aspect as the college waits to be reapproved for accreditation when the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges visits the campus in March.

According to Lacy, who has served on visiting teams to other campuses, some schools have been criticized in their reports for not having adequate savings in case of emergencies.

Another aspect that Lacy mentioned was that in the past semester the college has added 300 classes back to the schedule.

“You see when we added 300 classes back there’s classes now that aren’t full. So is there really that pent up need?