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ERIC Number: EJ837688
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Mar-6
Pages: 1
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0009-5982
California's Budget Problems Leave Community Colleges Holding IOU's
Keller, Josh
Chronicle of Higher Education, v55 n26 pA1 Mar 2009
When California approved its budget last month, the community-college system managed to escape the sharp budget cuts that befell most other agencies. But the state's fiscal troubles have nonetheless created a cash crisis for two-year colleges. As part of its plan to close a $41-billion budget deficit, California will delay providing $540-million in aid to its community colleges this year, forcing them to come up with the money for several months while the state waits for more revenue to come in. Payments that would normally arrive in the spring will be on hold until July, and payments scheduled for July will be delayed until October. The delay affects most state agencies, including the University of California. But it puts an especially severe strain on the state's 110 community colleges, which have less room in their budgets for discretionary spending than their larger counterparts, and only enough reserve funds to survive short-term emergencies. At many two-year colleges, 85 percent or more of the budget is committed to salaries and benefits, making it difficult to weather unexpected dips in revenue. The impact of the cash shortage on the system's campuses varies widely, depending on the size of the campus and how well administrators prepared for the recession. Although California's formula for financing community colleges is unique, the disparities among the system's districts offers a warning to public colleges in other states of the perils of not maintaining a healthy reserve--and the rewards of planning ahead. At institutions that squirreled away funds during better times, administrators have been able to scrape together enough money to keep building new classrooms, buying instructional equipment, and expanding course offerings to accommodate a surge in enrollments. At less-prepared colleges, course sections may be cut, construction projects are on hold, and administrators are struggling to find the money to stay in business. If a district goes under, its governing board would be dissolved and its campuses taken over by another district--an exceedingly rare step.
Chronicle of Higher Education. 1255 23rd Street NW Suite 700, Washington, DC 20037. Tel: 800-728-2803; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: California