The first week of classes is over for me. The classrooms are bursting, and I hate turning away folks. The sad truth is that our budget doesn't allow us to take more students. They ask me, "Don't you want our money?" A perfectly valid question. Here's the answer: the student fees don't pay all of our bills. Despite the fact that the cost of the community colleges in California went up by 30% this semester, it means they're still only paying $26 per credit. It's the best deal in higher education. However, it doesn't generate enough revenue to pay for salaries and utilities and facilities and equipment and so on. That's where the State comes in, but they haven't been so good about paying recently. In addition, the State puts a cap on how many students they will fund. If we go over that cap, we actually LOSE money.
At the start of the week, in our three-college district, there were 11,000 people on waitlists.
In other years, I would allow more people into my classes, but we're in danger of not being able to afford to offer summer classes at this point, because the State LOWERED the cap this year while enrollments are growing. We have already cut about 10% of our course offerings. The good news is that enrollment is also UP about 10%... the courses we are offering are full. It's a good feeling to know that we are serving more students, but it's an awful feeling to know that we aren't serving ALL who want an education.
Most students have been handling the stress well, but there have been some incidents of frustration that required police involvement. Nothing in my department, though... hopefully that trend will hold through next week, as next Friday is the last day that students can add classes. But think about that, will you? People desperate for an education being turned away. Go celebrate that you got Cash for your Clunker... the rest of us are dealing with a very sad reality that will have repercussions extending far into the future.