Trustees vote to increase adult education fees

Zac Estrada and Zac Estrada

City College’s Board of Trustees voted 4-0 to raise fees for 20 Continuing Education classes for the spring semester, a move that could have other implications on the program.

After listening to a dozen speakers on the issue and an hour of discussion, the board voted to increase the fees on a new list of classes for spring quarter. This list was different including only some of the 90 classes recommended for substantial fee hikes at the Feb. 18 study session.

Three board members were not present for the vote, Kay Alexander, Morris Jurkowitz and Joan Livingston. President Serban’s office said all three members had “excused absences.” Jurkowitz and Livingston were not at the study session either.

While some members and college officials noted efforts to compromise on sticking points brought up at the study session, such as setting up a scholarship foundation to help students pay for fees, as well as noting extraordinary efforts from Continuing Ed instructors and students to organize their own fundraising efforts, most were set that the fee raises were the only way out.

“We’re doing what we feel is best for the college,” Board President Joe Dobbs said. His colleague Des O’Neill echoed those remarks.

But member Luis Villegas decided that, after hearing from students and instructors and two recommendations from Associated Student Body members, to postpone the issue, saying the item needed more clarification and input from the community.

“I thought I had a clear understanding last Friday,” he said. “But today I don’t.”

Villegas made a motion to table the item until next week, after he got an explanation as to why there were 20 classes slated for fee raises at Thursday’s meeting, rather than the roughly 90 classes in documents presented by college controller Leslie Griffin at the study session. He hoped that more cooperation would resolve discrepancies.

But fellow board members did not share the need to clarify the matter, and while member Sally Green seconded his motion, she, along with Dobbs and O’Neill, rejected the proposal.

After lying low in the front of the room, Continuing Ed Vice President Ofelia Arellano addressed the board just before the final vote.

“We have consulted with faculty in determining how many weeks and student hours to reflect the fee,” she said.

The unanimous vote came after students and faculty claimed there had not been enough transparency and cooperation on behalf of the board.

“There is a huge credibility gap,” Janice Lorber, a jewelry instructor, said. “Three lists in three weeks? What is real? Right now, not much.”

Student Senate Vice President Atty Garfinkel said she could not speak on behalf of the entire student body, but personally pleaded for more time to sort out details.

“I’m going to ask you to postpone until a representative from adult ed is consulted,” she said.

O’Neill said the fee raises would be enacted for the spring quarter, which starts April 12, and evaluated for future terms.