By Kristin Grafft
Amid the budget crisis, employee layoffs and program discontinuances, a complaint heard around the campuses is that students are suffering more than they should.
Many students have heard that LBCC has the largest fund reserve for Community Colleges in California, yet the college also seems to be cutting more programs than other schools.
Maria Lopez, the Associated Student Body secretary, heard the fund reserve was one of the largest, however Lopez also said it’s hard to know what the truth is.
“There is actually no dependable information on this right now because the district just changed its budget figures,” she said, adding how the district is never transparent enough.
The situation in Long Beach has even summoned support of student trustees from other Community Colleges. On Feb. 26, Ryan Ahari, the communications officer of the California Community College Association of Student Trustees, voiced his concern at the LBCC Board meeting on behalf of the association.
Ahari said, “I do not agree with the program discontinuance.” He went on the read a statement from the association president.
“‘It has come to the attention of the association that your Board recently cut 11 vocational programs from your curriculum while your district has the highest amount left in reserves in Region 8,’” Ahari read.
However, Ann-Marie Gabel, vice president of administrative services, said LBCC’s fund reserve is below average. For the 2010-2011 year, the average for the state was 18.8 percent of the general fund expenditures. In June 2012, LBCC’s ending fund was 14.15 percent, a total of $14.8 million, Gabel said.
However, Gabel explained that the state still owed the college more than $20 million. This means the fund reserve money is not actually cash on hand, it is simply the difference between money owed to the college and money the college owes, she said.
Gabel also pointed out that, “It’s one time money. Once it’s spent, it’s gone.” The money can’t be counted on to regularly fund aspects of the budget, she said.
The reserve is also cumulative, so the college has been cautious about not spending it too quickly, Gabel said. “We have spent it down for the past two years, but we’re trying not to spend it all in one fiscal year.”
Despite the passage of Proposition 30, the college still struggles to meet its budgetary needs, Gabel said. She explained that California pays LBCC for a certain number of full-time equivalent students, but that number is capped.