Board pre-approves tentative Cerritos College budget

Jenny Gonzalez

The tentative budget for Cerritos College that affects all students, faculty and staff was pre-approved by the board of trustees.

The presentation held by Cerritos College President Dr. Jose Fierro on Wednesday June 21 displayed the 2017-18 tentative budget with detailed reports and projections including projected deficits.

In the presentation, Fierro states the college began with a $2.6 million deficit this year; but fortunately savings were found in the discretionary items on the general fund.

He also mentions if nothing is done about the deficit, the result will be a 5.4 million dollar deficit for the college “assuming that 100% of the positions on the books would be filled.”

There is currently $1.5 million in potential savings on unfilled positions. If these positions remain open, Fierro said the deficit can be reduced to four million dollars.

He also said another item to consider is the yearly state minimum wage increase that will affect the budget.

“We are working very hard to find cost savings in every place that we can so that it doesn’t impede our student success or day-to-day operations.” Fierro said.

He expressed that fortunately, the budget will not impede student success because the inability to cover production costs or provide necessities for students is yet to be reached.

Fierro is concerned about the decline in enrollment, stating that ” the primary driver” of the budget is the number of full time students; this has declined, but Cerritos College is not the only campus experiencing such a decline.

He believes the decline in enrollment stems from the improved job market such as Los Angeles County, where fewer students go to school — affecting these schools’ budgets.

According to Fierro, some of the solutions to the deficit are to implement and expand enrollment initiatives such as “expanding our K-12 partnerships — focusing on dual enrollment, summer academy and providing college classes at local high schools.”

“Even though our tentative budget shows a current deficit, we are focused on cost-saving measures that will minimize the impact,” Fierro said.

Recently appointed Trustee Cody James Birkey believes it is important to look for ways to save money but also have the best budget. “I think this stuff is super important and as much as it is easy to see that it is a bunch of spreadsheets, these numbers represent everything else that is going on in the college and everything sort of hangs from that, so getting this right is really important,” Birkey said.

The finalized budget will be approved and adopted in September.