COC Board to present tentative budget to support new initiatives, teachers, programs

Canyons Hall at College of the Canyons (Source: COC)
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Santa Clarita Community College District’s tentative budget for the 2017-18 will include an increase in $5.3 million in revenue that will benefit new programs, additional teachers, capital projects and increased enrollment at College of the Canyons (COC).

The district’s tentative budget is expected to be reviewed and approved at the Santa Clarita Community College District Board of Trustees meeting Wednesday.

Increase in ongoing general fund revenue from the state will increase the community college district’s operating budget to $94.1 million, according to Eric Harnish, COC’s vice president of public information, advocacy and external relations.

“This is a balanced budget, where we’re bringing in more than we’re spending… We will finish the year with $10 million which is 10 percent of the total budget,” Harnish said.  “Overall as you look at the budget it’s an investment in our students and meeting the needs of our community.”

A major source of the district’s increased budget is from the college’s projected enrollment growth, which will allow for an increase in student enrollment by 1.5 percent.

“That will bring up our head count for number of individuals students we serve to over 31,000 students for 17-18 academic year,” Harnish said.

This increased enrollment will also include employees from local businesses who are looking for English as a Second Language (ESL) classes to improve workplace communication or computer classes to improve employee skills, according to Harnish.

COC also hopes to grow the College Now program that allows students in 11th and 12th grade to attend COC with waived enrollment fees.

“Last year was the first year we offered college classes at the high schools,” Harnish said.  “We want to see enrollment grow for high school students in particular.”

With increased enrollment, the district is also expected to hire eight full-time faculty, with one additional instructor in chemistry, English, philosophy, psychology and sociology, two additional business faculty members and one additional counselor.

“This will bring our total up to 218,” Harnish said.  “They’ll be teaching some of the most in demand science and general education courses for the college.”

The budget will also fund student support services with additional lab assistants, who work alongside faculty in the classroom, in the biology, computer applications and web technologies, chemistry, communications studies, physics, theater and welding programs.

For new initiatives, the budget will fund COC’s First Year Promise Program, which will allow 300 students to attend their first year of college for free.

It will also provide $1.5 million over the next two years to support the Guided Pathways Project, an initiative that creates specific course sequences, progress milestones and learning outcomes to increase student completion.

“As we continue to implement things like Guided Pathways and other student success initiatives we will continue to see completion grow,” Harnish said.

Additional funded programs include support for the campus escort program that provides rides to campus parking lots; funding for academic team travel for communications studies, music, theater and political science students; expanded student business office staff and student billing functions; an improvement system for disbursing financial aid; and an outsourced parking permit management system.

Two major capital improvement projects funded in 2017-18 will include the 55,000-square-foot Canyon Country Science Center and the Parking Structure that will provide 1,700 parking spaces at COC’s Valencia campus.

Both projects are expected to break ground this year and both are funded by Measure E, which was approved by voters in June 2016, according to Harnish.

In terms of expenditures, the college is expected to see its spending grow by the same rate as its revenues as it hires additional faculty, experiences increases in pension costs and ongoing costs for health insurance, utilities and other operational costs.

“We have the same operating expenses that any business incurs that go up year over year,” Harnish said.  “As we grow our enrollment, we have full time faculty increases and part time faculty increases so that’s another area of expense.”

In September, after the 2016-17 fiscal year, the Santa Clarita Community College District’s Board of Trustees will review the budget, make any necessary changes and approve an adopted budget.

Additional Agenda Items:

  • Approve budget transfers for April 2017
  • Approve monthly  financial report for April 30 which reelected an Unrestricted General Fund ending fund balance of $10,064,113 and an increase in the ending fund balance at June 30, 2017 to $12,643,703
  • Conduct presentation of the fiscal year 2015-16 and fiscal year 2016-17 mid-year California Community Colleges Sound Fiscal Management Self-Assessment Checklist
  • Review of interfund transfers for the 2016-17 and 2017-18 fiscal years
  • Presentation of Performance Indicators, Accountability Reporting for the Community Colleges 2017 Report Repeal and institutional Effectiveness Partnership Initiative (IEPI Indicator) Framework
  • Repeal of board policy: Placement
  • Second reading and approval of board policies: Display of the United States Flag; Board Membership; and Board Elections
  • Approve resolution to use University of California or California State University contracts

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On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_

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