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Valley College braces for reduced budget

Many California colleges and universities await an uncertain future as funding takes a significant hit.

By Gabriel Arizon, Editor-in-Chief

In light of the recent California state budget revision, Valley College is preparing for different scenarios if it receives reduced funding in August.

On May 14, Gov. Gavin Newsom revealed that the state had a $54 billion deficit due to the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, Newsom announced a slew of budget cuts to numerous programs and institutions, including community colleges. According to Cal Matters, community colleges will likely have a shortfall of $2 billion in state support. The California Community Colleges system, for instance, is projected to get a $740 million cut.

“We understand California’s difficult fiscal condition resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, and we will work collaboratively with Gov. Newsom, the Legislature and our campus leaders to get through the crisis,” CCC Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley said in a statement. “We must avoid the types of devastating cuts that turned more than 500,000 students away from our colleges in the Great Recession.”

According to Valley President Barry Gribbons, it is still too early to know how the budget revision will affect the school. He stated that there is a statutory deadline for the state to adopt a budget by June 15, although they will not know what their final budget is until mid-August due to possible revisions. For the next one-two months, the school will be formulating a plan to address any reductions in the final budget.

“We’ll be doing our best to preserve the number of classes and have that be a last resort since our primary mission is instruction,” Gribbons said about possibly cutting classes. “We want to make sure that remains our focus. Access, equity and success will remain our strategic priorities and we’ll be working to preserve them with whatever budget ends up being finalized.”

Gribbons does hope that the reductions will be partially reduced by a federal bailout, but the school will still plan for every scenario.

Other California colleges and universities are expected to undergo significant cuts as well. The University of California system is projected to lose $376 million in funding, and the California State University system will most likely receive a $404 million cut compared to the previous year’s budget, according to the Times of San Diego.

When asked (before Newsom’s revised budget) about enrollment numbers in the fall semester, Gribbons stated there were factors that indicate that it could possibly rise, such as students choosing not to go to four-year universities and enrollment usually rising during an economic downturn.

In a 2018 U.S. Census Bureau report, it was found that total college enrollment rose by three million during the Great Recession, from 2006 to 2011. Two-year colleges saw a 33 percent increase in enrollment during that time, and 29 percent of all students were enrolled in two-year colleges in 2010.

A New York Times article found that many students are reconsidering their college choices due to the pandemic. There is also an expected loss of international students — particularly from Asia — in light of travel restrictions and concerns over studying abroad. In fact, some institutions are projecting $100 million losses in the spring, and several are preparing for a larger hit in the fall.

“Students who are graduating, that are putting off college, I’d say don’t do it,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said. “Please, go to community college, even if most of those offerings may be online this fall, we need you to continue your dreams. Your dreams are bigger than this pandemic.”

This story will be updated when more details follow.

Cassandra Nava and Rumi Shah contributed to this report.

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