Cuesta College's accreditation still on probation

Cuesta College remains on probation regarding its accreditation despite efforts by administrators to remedy concerns raised by the agency responsible for accrediting community colleges.

The school has been on probation status since February 2010 — when the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges said it was not satisfied with progress on several recommendations given to Cuesta in January 2009.

Chief among those were the need for a better strategic plan and the lack of sufficient staff to provide administrative services.

Cuesta’s accreditation remains intact while the college is on probation, which means it will not influence students’ transfer status.

Administrators submitted a 40-page report addressing those recommendations in October. A two-person accreditation team visited the college Nov. 5 to validate the response.

The accrediting commission notified Cuesta College late Thursday that it had not yet satisfied four of the six recommendations made to the college last year. Those recommendations involve long-term academic planning and assessment, technology resources, long-term financial planning and administrative capacity.

“Though much work has gone into developing the means to achieve integration across the college processes, at the present time, it is largely a detailed plan to do more planning,” according to the commission’s report.

Cuesta College President Gil Stork responded in a written statement, “Although I am extremely disappointed with the commission’s action, it is consistent with the visiting team’s report in that we have not completely ‘fixed’ some deficiencies that were identified by the previous teams.”

Cuesta College must now demonstrate progress on the remaining four recommendations — progress which will be detailed in a follow-up report to be submitted to ACCJC by Oct. 15.

Stork said specific changes that need to be made in the coming year include updating the college’s educational master plan — a road map for future college programs; specifying a funding source for technological needs; and preparing to put a general obligation bond before voters to help achieve financial certainty.

Stork acknowledged that administrators will continue to face the challenge of combating the negative connotation of the probation status.

However, he added, students are not directly affected by the probation status.

“This has never been about the quality of our classes,” Stork said.

After the October report, another accreditation team will visit Cuesta College in November, and the ACCJC will meet again in January to re-evaluate the college’s progress.

Reach AnnMarie Cornejo at 781-7939.