Fresno City College library (Photo: Bobak Ha'Eri/Wikimedia)
When the California Economic Summit was held in Fresno late in 2019, it helped shine the light on the need for more investment in services in inland California.
State legislators can expect to hear more from some Central Valley community college leaders due to shortfalls after a new statewide funding formula was put in place. Concerned about the impact on their work, the college leaders decided to organize a caucus.
The Student-Centered Funding Formula (SCFF), covering all of the California Community Colleges, was intended to provide additional resources to districts serving large numbers of low-income and disadvantaged students and districts experiencing high graduation and transfer rates. This move to fund student success was one of the core commitments of the Colleges’ Vision for Success, pairing high expectations with high support.
“The community colleges have a simple goal—put the students first. For many of our students in the Central Valley, they are the first of their families to attend college. If we are going to be successful in lifting them up and into California's middle class—it makes no sense to reduce investments now,” said Dr. Stu Van Horn, CEO of the West Hills Community College District. “We believe drawing attention to this shortfall through our caucus will help us make the case that our students deserve the attention and investment of their peers elsewhere in California.”
A full one-fourth of this statewide funding shortfall occurred within the Central Valley: $27 million in unrealized funding. All community college districts in the Central Valley have been underfunded to some degree, according to a letter issued by the community college leaders:
- Kern Community College District ($10.5 million underfunded)
- West Hills Community College District ($4.7 million underfunded [10% of operating budget])
- Merced Community College District ($4.2 million underfunded)
- Yosemite Community College District ($3.0 million underfunded)
- Sequoias Community College District ($2.1 million underfunded)
- State Center Community College District ($1.4 million underfunded)
- West Kern Community College District ($0.5 million underfunded)
- San Joaquin Delta Community College District ($0.3 million underfunded)
The Central Valley Community College Caucus, composed of CEOs, is calling for fiscal stability for the districts and the future viability of the funding formula:
- Allocating state general funds to backfill any remaining shortfall in apportionment funding to community college districts for 2018-19
- Ensuring the Student-Centered Funding Formula is fully funded for future years by authorizing adjustments to state General Fund apportionment to match the true cost of the SCF.
The leaders say these measures will contribute to fiscal stability for districts and the future viability of the funding formula as a tool for California Community Colleges to carry out the goals of the Vision for Success and help California stay competitive.
“Our first unified message of advocacy for the funding formula is being distributed to all members of the San Joaquin Valley delegation, as well as selected other individuals and entities,” Dr. Van Horn wrote. “West Hills continues to spearhead collaboration among the region’s colleges, and I remain committed to stand shoulder to shoulder with you to ultimately improve the funding formula to align with the state’s Vision for Success.”
The California Economic Summit’s vast network continues to work on leading and promoting regional, inclusive strategies in advance of the 2020 Summit scheduled for Monterey on December 3 and 4. Read more about the Summit’s priorities in the 2020 Roadmap to Shared Prosperity, including lifelong learning strategies that will help prepare the workforce of tomorrow.