The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

Board approves Continuing Ed reorganization

Øystein Grønvold

At Thursday’s Board of Trustees meeting, the board voted in favor of the highly controversial decision to restructure the Continuing Education division and form the Center for Life Long Learning.

The board approved the proposal to form the center by a 7-1 vote, and approved the proposal to integrate non-credit courses focused on college and career preparation into the Educational Programs division of the college by a 6-2 vote. Trustee Luis Villegas voted against both proposals with trustee Joan Livingston voting against only the former, both trustees will be leaving the board this fall. With the approval, 16 Continuing Education faculty positions will be eliminated.

Derek Hedges, a long time Continuing Education student and vocal supporter of the program, has attended numerous trustees meetings to voice his concerns and was excited about the approval.

“It was worth it,” he said. “I’m pretty fired up.”

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The college and career preparation courses will still be offered for free as credit classes. Superintendent-President Lori Gaskin defended the decision to add the courses into the higher education division of the college.

“The educational programs should not be divided,” said Gaskin. “Frankly, non-credit isn’t that different. Their all educational programs.”

The hearing of citizens took over an hour with a number of Continuing Education students, faculty and supporters coming forward to voice their concerns about the restructure.

“Once again, seniors are being shorted,” said Gretchen Bercaw, a City College graduate and current Continuing Ed student, as she addressed the board. “A benefit of CE classes that needs to be recognized, is CE classes help with loneliness, avoiding closet alcoholism, prescription drug abuse, and falls.”

Gaskin was adamant that the concerns were heard and that the Center for Life Long Learning will not be ignored by the college and will be financially self-sustainable

“The Center for Life Long Learning is our program,” said Gaskin. “ I am convinced by the voices you hear today that their our untapped resources in the community who before would not have thought about giving to [City College] unless somebody asked them to give for the Center for Life Long Learning.”

The reorganization plan to create the center has been in development for nearly a year, and had left many of the approximate 20,000 Continuing Education students uncertain whether or not any courses would even be offered. Cathie McCammon, co-president of the association of continuing educations students, stressed the need to keep course fees low.

“This is the only feasible type structure to offer the rich diversity and depth of classes the community has enjoyed for so many years,” said McCammon. “These classes need to be kept affordable while keeping the high quality of instruction we have all had the opportunity to enjoy.”

The college will look to hire an executive director to run the new center and to help keep it financially self-sustainable.

The next scheduled regular board meeting is set for Oct. 25.

Sam Terrell and Kendall Gonzalez contributed to this article.

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