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

City College budget constraints pose challenges for 2024-25 school year

Illustration by Anthony Zell.

City College is facing major budget challenges, which as an effect, will have a large impact on the upcoming 2024-25 academic school year. Departments within the school have had to manage scheduling conflicts in order to fit this budget. 

According to Department Chair of Physical Education Kathy O’Connor, the college’s budget issues have resulted in her having to cut classes and teacher load units (TLUs) for the 2024-25 school year.

The state took money out of the already existing budget to put it towards things like maintenance and salary increases for full-time faculty, so the budget for the 2024-25 year is now stretched thin, but nothing was taken.

“There was no cut; it was us saying, ‘That is your budget, you can’t spend more.’ It is not a cut, it’s just not an increase,” Assistant Superintendent-President Brian Fahnestock said. 

Because of the new budget guidelines, O’Connor said she had to cut roughly 35 TLUs, the equivalent of about 14 classes for the upcoming school year. Figuring out how to have more students in the same classes creates a challenge for department heads like O’Connor. Looking at average class sizes and whether they are meeting the correct enrollment number plays a role in which classes get cut.

“It’s very hard to anticipate what classes students will want as the time goes on,” O’Connor said.

Each department is faced with a certain budget that cannot be exceeded. For some departments, fitting this budget may result in cutting down classes offered, TLUs, and part-time faculty members. According to Fahnestock, the issue is that City College is using more money than what is available in the budget.

“A part of this is, we have just had the four years of COVID-19 funding where they gave us a lot of extra money, but we just don’t have that money anymore,” Fahnestock said. “So we are having to live with the money we have.”

According to Jordan Killebrew, executive director of public affairs and communications, because of the budgets that have been given in the past, City College has had a comfortable financial culture of growing without actually looking at its finances

“We’ve been building, building, building for about a decade, and now we just can’t afford it anymore, so that’s where the culture shift comes in,” Killebrew said. 

Department chairs have to try to predict what classes students may need or want based on past enrollment and cut the ones that don’t meet the criteria in terms of enrollment for a full class. O’Connor said classes that aren’t usually taken will be limited to annual/biannual classes, potentially making it more difficult for students to get courses they need. 

“We don’t have enough students in each class to be financially efficient,” O’Connor said. “We need to increase enrollment. But the thought is if we are cutting classes, how will we get enrollment?” 

The number of students enrolled in City College heavily impacts the budget that is received. Full-time equivalent student (FTES) is a calculation that derives what the school gets paid.

“If a student takes one class, they are partial FTES, so a full-time student is considered a full one,” Fahnestock said. 

Most students are not full-time, which impacts the amount of funding the school receives. Full-time equivalent faculty (FTEF) also matters as it takes multiple part-time faculty members to be considered FTEF. This calculation impacts how much the college spends on salaries as well as the financial efficiency of each department. 

As a result, more part-time faculty members lose out on classes when non-efficient sections have to be cut. 

Additionally, the remaining concern involves the preparation needed from students for the upcoming year. 

According to O’Connor, Killebrew and Fahnestock, it is recommended that students register early and meet with counselors to get good information on classes they may need, and not wait until the last minute to enroll. Registering for classes as soon as possible increases chances students will get the classes they need to graduate.

Correction: April 30, 2024
A previous version of this story misspelled Brian Fahnestock as “Brain Fahenstock.” The Channels regrets this error.

Correction: May 6, 2024
A previous version of this story misstated facts about the statewide budget deficit and full-time equivalent faculty (FTEF) calculations. The previous version also included grammatical errors, which have been corrected. 

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