CPC reviews state funding heading toward City College’s general fund

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August Lawrence, Associate Editor

Transparency. That was the focus for the College Planning Council’s first meeting of 2022 and the reason physics instructor Art Olguin approached the council in public comment on Feb. 1.

The CPC reviewed funds coming from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s budget proposal and started a dialogue about fiscal management.

“There seems to be a question in people’s minds,” Olguin said to the CPC, a body that works to advise the superintendent-president. “To think we’re really in dire straits, then to hear that’s not really the case.”

Olguin said he had previously voiced his concern about the ambiguity of City College’s financial state to the school’s fiscal committee, expressing his confusion about recent firings and hirings. He said he asked the committee directly “whether or not the college is in a structural deficit,” but felt the committee was focusing on fiscal policies when he was asking about monetary policies, so he came to the CPC. Fiscal policies mean how the money will be spent, and monetary policies imply how much money there is available to spend.  

“I want to thank Art for his question,” Vice President of Business Services Lindsay Maas said. “Why, one year, do we have a major deficit, then the next a surplus? We’re gonna do everything we can to explain why we’re feeling this whiplash effect of the budget.”

Maas was there to present the CPC with the Governor’s Proposed Budget, an annual grant for the school’s Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) and inflation of the year. The money is put into the school’s general fund where the Board of Trustees then decides what to do with it — such as giving raises or paying bills like maintenance fees or classroom materials.

As of now, City College will receive approximately:

  • $4.5 million in unrestricted funds
  • $5.23 million in restricted funds
  • $4.3 million in deferred maintenance and instructional equipment

Academic Senate Rep. Ruth Morales acknowledged Olguin’s point, saying the school is “absolutely in a deficit” and a budgetary conversation needs to start.

She said if not for federal programs like HEERF and the CARES Act, the school wouldn’t have been able to cover its revenue losses.

“To answer Art’s question, no, we shouldn’t walk away from this conversation,” Morales said. “I encourage folks to attend the Board of Trustees audit committee. That’s the conversation being had there.”

Academic Senate President Raeanne Napoleon wanted to make clear whether the money would go directly to benefit the staffers or some place else.

“Faculty gets frustrated when COLA comes in and doesn’t go to us,” Napoleon said. “The district can do what it wants with COLA?”

Interim Superintendent-President Kindred Murillo confirmed the general fund is intended for the entire campus. She said City College has “more money in the bank than most schools” and the school is in a “good stable position” financially.

“You guys have been through a tough few years and I’m sad you got nothing,” Murillo said. “I want to make sure we do the right thing and not jeopardize the college’s financial stability.”

The CPC will reconvene on Tuesday, Feb. 15.