Cuesta College officials are bracing themselves for the possibility of midyear state budget cuts that could leave the community college short about $500,000 to $750,000 in operational funding this year.
Last week, State Controller John Chiang said tax revenue fell nearly $539 million below projections in July, pushing the state closer to triggering cuts that could affect education and social services.
Midyear state budget cuts could trigger a hike in state community college student fees to $46 per unit from $36 per unit now. Already in May, Cuesta’s board of trustees approved a $2.9 million budget cut this year to deal with funding shortfalls. As a result, 43 nonteaching positions took an 8.3 percent cut to work hours and about 70 part-time faculty members had their class loads reduced or eliminated. In addition, five employees were laid off.
Cuesta President Gil Stork said this week that if midyear budget cuts occur, the college faces cost-cutting measures that could include about 10 to 15 additional layoffs as well as furloughs.
But Stork said college officials would seek to keep as many people employed as possible because staff already has been impacted to the point where, in some instances, one person is handling jobs formerly handled by multiple people.
“We want to minimize staff reductions and layoffs as much as possible,” Stork said. “They’re a major morale killer. Right now, we need to be mutually rallying together for success and to be pulling together.”
But Stork said an increase in student fees could be problematic for its timing and some advocates are lobbying against it.
He said the increased charge could be implemented after fees have already been paid, so not all students would come through with the increase. That would leave Cuesta and other colleges having to absorb the loss.
Stork said he doesn’t expect courses to be eliminated, enrollment to be trimmed or summer school to be dropped should midyear slashing occur, because students need to have opportunities to move through the system and those kinds of changes would be too drastic.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.