The California state financial situation has been quite challenging recently, and, unfortunately, the situation will most likely continue to worsen, at least in the near future. The focus of the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges has been to maintain academic and professional standards to the greatest extent possible and to offer planning support for those colleges and districts struggling with budget reductions. Unfortunately, the Academic Senate is not immune from budget reductions either. In the Governor’s proposed budget, statewide funding for the Academic Senate was eliminated altogether by designating it as a categorical subject to “flexibility”. While the Academic Senate receives funding from a variety of sources, including grants, dues, and event revenue, we have relied on the state line item for some base operating expenses. We and other statewide partners will attempt to get the funding added back to the budget, but, after much consideration, the Senate’s Budget and Finance Committee has recommended that we take additional steps to prepare for the worst case scenario.
As reported in recent budget and audit reports, the Academic Senate has already reduced many of its expenses, including reductions in staffing (three positions), fewer face-to-face committee meetings, more use of CCCConfer, reduction in committees, less expensive hotels for conferences and institutes, and reductions in meal functions and materials provided at events. So far, we have been able to keep most services to the field at levels comparable to pre-budget reductions. The current proposed budget has forced us to make some hard choices that will reduce our ability to provide the same levels of service that we have offered in the past. In particular, the following reductions will be made beginning in 2012-13:
- The number of Executive Committee meetings will be reduced from 10 to 7
- The amount of reassigned to Executive Committee members will be reduced.
- The current set of approximately 20 Academic Senate committees will be consolidated into about eight committees, with the goal of reducing duplication and other expenses
In addition, the Senate will continue to explore and implement other cost controlling measures.
Obviously, such reductions will limit the Academic Senate’s ability to provide services that the body has come to rely upon over the years. We are actively engaged in finding monies to close the proposed but likely shortfall; nevertheless, it would imprudent not to take these challenges seriously and act accordingly. The chair of the Budget and Finance Committee will provide regular updates on the Senate’s financial situation.