Proposal to increase online courses causes some concern
Governor Brown’s budget announcement was greeted with enthusiasm in the ranks of California’s community colleges, which will be able to add thousands of classes and students as a result of the passage of Prop. 30 in November.
The governor’s budget calls for a $197 million increase to the college system in 2013-14, allowing colleges to add back many of the classes and programs that were eliminated in the past few years.
More students expected
The increased funding would also allow thousands of students to re-enter the system. Nearly 500,000 students had been turned away over the past four years due to the state’s financial crisis, according to the chancellor’s office. In addition, colleges can also expect $179 million in funding that had been deferred during the recession, leaving them with less debt.
As always, the January budget proposal is just that: a proposal. Over the next few months, CCA/CTA will be involved in Sacramento as the details of the proposals are reviewed and revised. As with all proposals, there are concerns that will be aired and hopefully, resolved before the governor submits his May Revised Budget and before the budget is passed in late June.
Included in CCA’s concerns are the governor’s proposals to allot $300 million to shift high school adult education programs to the community colleges. There are myriad programs from English as a Second Language, to career education, to GED to personal development courses and classes for older adults that will be affected by a shift to community colleges.
More online courses
The governor’s budget proposal also allocates $16.9 million to increase the number of online courses in order to encourage more students to complete their work. Currently, 27 percent of community college students take at least one course online each year and nearly 17 percent of all courses offered are through distance education, according to the chancellor’s office.
“The intent is to get students through the system as quickly as possible,” said CCA President Ron Norton Reel. “I’m not convinced that a public speaking class online is the best thing for students, but it is clear to me that distance education is not going to go away. Either we have to be part of the discussion, or we will be left out.”
Students will not have any change in their fees, but there are other aspects in the proposal that will affect them, including requiring students to pay full freight if they enroll in more than 90 units. The governor’s budget proposal will also begin to change the practice of enrollment-based funding for colleges to a focus on course completion.
“This is all only a blueprint now,” Reel said. “It’s opening a dialogue. As budget hearings start, we will be there to speak up.”