SBCC gives community update
Santa Barbara City College’s trustees gave a presentation Thursday evening about the state of the school — including the school’s fiscal outlook, a key item that has been a topic of discussion for weeks.
With the school facing a deficit of more than $4.7 million, the school is curbing expenditures in an effort to decrease the deficit, Marsha S. Croninger, one of the trustees, told Thursday’s attendees, “We have a hiring freeze.”
Another trustee, Kate Parker, said, “We don’t actually know the budget for the school year that we’re in.”
The uncertainty surrounding the budget is due to the fact that California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office will not be releasing the numbers until next year. The Chancellor’s Office, according to the trustees, seems to be undergoing an administrative scramble as it recuperates the funds it had passed along to community colleges throughout the state, funds that were beyond what they could afford to give.
The trustees also reported on basic statistics about the school. The total credit student headcount for fall 2018 was 16,177. Breaking down the five-figure number showed that 48.6 percent of the students were from the district, 15.8 percent were from elsewhere in the tri-counties, 24.9 percent were from elsewhere in California, 4.7 percent were from out of state and 6 percent were international students.
About 40 percent of SBCC students studied full-time, and the rest were part-time students.
What are these students offered? Student trustee Kenny Igbechi, who is studying computer science, broke down some of the offerings students are privy to: 19 sports, more than 50 career technical programs, more than 50 student clubs, study abroad programs and more than 80 degrees.
Although these offerings are on the table, the college’s enrollment figures continue to decline. Ms. Croninger said that the hiring freeze is part of the effort to responsibly match employees to the size of students, an effort that is ongoing.
“What’s the reason for the decline of enrollment?” asked one of the attendees.
Board president Robert K. Miller pointed to the economy.
As a recession occurs, folks go back to school, said Mr. Miller, who added that as the economy improves, more folks stay on the workforce. Mr. Miller, however, also had a speculation about the declining enrollment of international students.
He suspects that students from other countries may be less interested in coming to the U.S. or be facing more hurdles to obtain a student visa “under the current climate.”
The school’s cap for international students is 1,500, with the current count just shy of 66 percent of the cap.
The students, according to the presentation, have seen an increase in the number of classes in the past year. While last spring’s number of classes was at 436, the figure grew to 603 in a year. During fall 2018, there were 579 classes, and fall 2019 saw an increase to about 650.
The school is also looking for a new superintendent.
Helen Benjamin currently serves as the interim superintendent/president, but her replacement is slated to begin at the start of 2020.
The application for the president search closed on Sept. 16, and the screening committee will conduct interviews throughout early October.
There will be a community forum with finalists Oct. 24 at Garvin Theatre at 721 Cliff Dr.