The Board of Trustees got an updated look at the school’s 2020-21 adopted budget and plans for the new Physical Education building set to begin construction within the next two years at its first meeting of the semester.
During the spring semester, uncertainty from the pandemic and transitioning classes online had early estimates projecting a deficit of anywhere from $3.5 million to $7.7 million in a worst-case scenario.
The latest adopted budget before the final budget is approved on Oct. 8, projects a $4.9 million deficit—a number that required much rearrangement due to difficulties coming from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Superintendent-President Utpal Goswami said the school scrambled to make changes to keep the number as reasonable as possible, although there was not much time to respond to so many setbacks.
“The unfortunate part of the 2021 budget is all of these developments happened,” said Goswami. “And the window to make decisions already passed.”
Some of the changes included accounting for the expected loss in tuition revenue from moving online and rearranging money that would usually go toward food services and campus maintenance.
The college expects to lose international student revenue to the tune of $4.5 million over the next two semesters, while out-of-state tuition is projected to decrease by about $2 million.
The school made many structural changes to adjust for these losses including saving over $3 million by offering a more streamlined and efficient course schedule, essentially envisioning a smaller institution.
“That’s good to hear that we could reshape the size of our institution but we are operating at a caliber of excellence and thriving,” said Trustee Veronica Gallardo.
She said the board should also be careful with how many cutbacks are made.
“We can’t just gut it all, we have to be strategic,” said Gallardo.
Some board members believed even more adjustments might be wise when looking to alleviate the deficit going forward.
“I’ve been arguing for more adjustments for a few years now,” said Trustee Craig Nielson. “We have to end this structural deficit. This can kill an institution.”
Goswami urged the board to take these factors into consideration, but also taking a moderate approach that allows City College to flourish, despite financial uncertainty.
“That’s about the worst thing as a board that you can do for the institution, to put it in a financial straightjacket where every year is a hand-to-mouth existence,” said Goswami.
Looking towards the future, the board received the latest from LPA, the architectural firm behind the Physical Education building renovation and redesign.
During the presentation, architects Steve Key and Steve Flanagan outlined the details of the five year project which will cost over $46 million, which is much closer to the $37 million state budget than the first estimates.
Some of the first renderings of what the new building will look like were included in the presentation. The primary materials for the building will be cast-in-place concrete, with a terra-cotta colored roof and accents that would match Santa Barbara’s local architectural motif.
Flanagan said the materials “will save $3 million to $5 million in costs” and create a great look from Loma Alta Drive.
The firm will provide a final estimate in January of 2021. Development and construction is set to begin early next year.
The board will reconvene on Sept. 24 for their next meeting.