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CA community college has interesting approach to budget deficit

The College of the Siskiyous (COS), a community college in Weed, CA has a looming budget problem. Many California community colleges have seen state funding drop. COS’s projected budget deficit for the 2020-2021 fiscal year is currently $1.7M. COS enrolls about 1,800 students.

COS also had a $310,000 budget deficit when it began this fiscal year.

“Due to careful fiscal oversight and a college-wide effort to be good stewards of public funds, the college now projects that they will end the year with a balanced budget.”
College of the Siskiyous press release.

To tackle the $1.7M deficit, COS will be taking a multi-pronged approach.

First, they’ll continue to work a strategy they implemented in 2018. It involves improving their transfer options to four-year colleges and universities. They’ll also be looking to shore up their career and technical education programs. They’ll be expanding their non-credit class offerings, exploring international partnerships and developing Instructional Service Agreements.

(I did some digging. They’re apparently not planning to build a hotel. They’ve decided to go all-in on the education thing.)

The COS administration also met with the entire staff and asked them to share ideas to cut expenses, save money and increase revenues.

Here’s the kicker:
The COS president, Stephen Schoonmaker, also told the staff that if personnel reductions were necessary, the first cuts would come from the administration.

“Before we ask anyone else to do more with less, or to lose a colleague within your constituency, we will reduce our administrative resources and our administrative assets – and raise our individual and collective administrative expectations first.”

– College of the Siskiyous President Stephen Schoonmaker

You should understand that there isn’t much room to cut in the COS administration. It consists of just five people, including the President.

The WCC Board should act to avoid budget deficit

Many community colleges are struggling with state budget cuts and enrollment declines. The inability to enroll students due to the present public health crisis cannot possibly help. For the most part, WCC isn’t in the position of relying heavily on state funding to get by. Nor is it in the position of dealing with serious enrollment declines. WCC’s generous property tax assessment insulates WCC from most of these problems.

Which is why the Board of Trustees must guard WCC’s financial condition carefully; eliminate wasteful spending; reject excessive administrative hiring; and evaluate every spending request in light of its long-term financial consequences. The time to act on this is now.

Photo Credit:, via Flickr