Prop. 30: Community colleges will add classes with funding boost
California’s 2.4-million community college students may find it easier to get classes now that voters have approved a tax measure to help fund public education, officials said Wednesday.
With the success of Gov. Jerry Brown’s Proposition 30 — which will temporarily raise the state sales tax and income taxes on high earners — the system will receive about $210 million in additional funding and be able to serve about 20,000 more students during the academic year, new community colleges Chancellor Brice Harris said during a media briefing.
The system’s 112 community colleges had been reeling from state funding cuts of $809 million since 2008, with course offerings slashed by almost a quarter and nearly half a million fewer students.
About $50 million of the new funds is earmarked to increase student access and $160 million to replenish services funding that has been deferred by the state since the recession started.
California’s community colleges form the largest higher-education system in the country and have a significant impact on workforce training in the state and elsewhere, Harris noted.
“I’m guardedly optimistic that we’re beginning to find the bottom in California,” Harris said. “We believe so goes California, so goes the country. This system is so large and so significant that we were fearful that if we weren’t able to stop the bleeding, it would begin to affect the country as a whole.”
The nine-campus Los Angeles Community College District will avoid a funding cut of $30 million and will be able to add about 200 classes this spring, said Chancellor Daniel LaVista.
He congratulated students who voted in large numbers and held forums to educate the wider community about the impact had the tax measure failed.
A student-led drive registered about 3,000 students in the Los Angeles district in the four weeks leading up to the election, said Herlim Li, who attends both East L.A. College and Cal State Los Angeles.
“When you win things you have the taste of victory in your mouth, and this will leave more students engaged,” said Li, 35, a political science major. “A lot of students are texting me elated and saying the passage of Prop. 30 really vindicates the work they’ve been doing all these months.”
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-- Carla Rivera
Photo: Students wait in a line outside the financial aid office at Santa Monica College. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times