Leaders, students urge Sacramento legislators to continue support for community colleges
Posted: 1/29/2014
SWC Capitol Visit
PHOTO: Southwestern College leadership head to Sacramento for Community College League of California conference and to advocate support for the governor’s budget. L-R Academic Senate President Randy Beach, Student Trustee Laura del Castillo, Governing Board Member Tim Nader, Governing Board Member Norma Hernandez, Superintendent/President Dr. Melinda Nish.

SACRAMENTO – It was a more upbeat mood than the past four years when representatives from community colleges in San Diego and Imperial counties met with state legislators this week to advocate for funding and programs benefitting the more than 140,000 students who attend the nine colleges in the region. 

The November 2012 passage of proposition 30, a temporary statewide tax supporting education, has eased the budget crunch that forced the colleges to eliminate hundreds of class sections and turn away thousands of students. Although the colleges still have not returned to 2008-2009 funding levels, the improved budget situation has allowed them to add classes, offer winter intersession courses, and hire more faculty. 

CEOs, trustees, students and faculty from the community colleges in the two-county area—Southwestern, Cuyamaca, Grossmont, San Diego City, San Diego Mesa, San Diego Miramar, MiraCosta, palomar and Imperial Valley—met with their legislators as part of the Community College League of California’s annual legislative summit. The group met with incoming Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins; Assembly members Rocky Chavez, Lorena Gonzalez,  Brian Jones, Manuel perez, and Shirley Weber; and state senators Marty Block, Ben Hueso and Mark Wyland. 

Assemblymembers Brian Maienschein and Marie Waldron and state Sen. Joel Anderson were unable to attend, but sent their top assistants to meet with the group. 

The college leaders urged legislators to support Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed budget for community colleges, which includes:

  • $155.2 million to fund a 3 percent restoration of access
  • $200 million to increase orientation, assessment, placement, counseling and other educational planning services called for in the Student Success Act
  • $175 million for deferred maintenance and instructional equipment
  • $48.5 million for a 0.86 percent cost of living increase
  • $3.6 million to provide additional staffing and technical assistance in the California Community College Chancellor’s Office

Assemblywoman Shirley Weber—a strong supporter for education, said this budget is the first step in restoring funding to areas that will build California’s economy.

“We recognize that if we are going to be smart in our rebuilding, we need to invest in things that build the long-term effect,” Weber said. “And we do that with education.

“Community colleges have been the backbone of California,” Weber said. “There are very few institutions with such a broad reach as community colleges.”

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez also lauded community colleges for providing access to all students.

“If it wasn’t for community colleges, we wouldn’t have that gateway to higher education,” Gonzalez said. “Even with this additional funding, there have been too many cuts.”

The students and college leaders also urged legislators to support SB 850, a bill authored by Block that would allow community colleges to offer bachelor’s degrees in certain fields with a high workforce demand, such as nursing or information technology. If enacted, the bill would assist students who need a bachelor’s degree to get a job but are unable to enroll at public universities because few spots are available.  

SDICCCA president Dr. Melinda Nish called the legislative meetings a success.

“Students, trustees, CEOs and faculty members from our entire region had the opportunity to tell our legislators what is important to them,” Nish said. “With an improved budget and economic picture, we wanted to thank our legislators and encourage them to support the governor’s proposed budget.”

SWC News Room Graphic
Recent Posts
The number of Southwestern College graduates earning an Associate Degree for Transfer, which guarantees admission to the California State University system, increased 138% from 2013-14 to 2014-15, making it one of the greatest increases in the state, according to a new report by the Campaign for College Opportunity.... READ MORE
Soon you will be able to tour the Southwestern College campus from anywhere in the world. We’re not talking about a basic 360 degree panorama, a fully immersive virtual reality experience will give anyone with a smartphone the ability to wander the sidewalks of Southwestern College and witness what the students see every day as they head to class.... READ MORE
Thousands. The number of laps that have been swum in the pools. The number of miles ran on the treadmills. The number of reps lifted in the weight room. The number of students who have been educated. The number of the building... READ MORE
The Southwestern Community College Police Department is now offering Live Scan fingerprinting services to the general public, much to the relief of a growing number of South County job applicants with limited opportunities to access the technology needed for a security clearance.... READ MORE
A free open house at the Crown Cove Aquatic Center will allow participants to get out on the water in sailboats, SUPs, Outrigger Canoes and kayaks, plus be eligible for a free life jacket as the Center kicks off National Safe Boating Week.... READ MORE
A national shortage in qualified emergency medical transportation specialists has prompted Southwestern College to institute a new program to help paramedics and nurses excel in caring for patients being transferred between care facilities. ... READ MORE
It’s the quintessential next step—after high school, you go to college. At least that is what more than 600 Sweetwater Union High School District students thought on Tuesday as they stepped off the yellow school bus on to the Chula Vista Campus of Southwestern College.... READ MORE
Many Southwestern College students have vivid memories of the Mexican drug violence in the region, and its impact was evident recently when Director Charles Minn screened one of his films, “¿Es el Chapo?” ... READ MORE
Student volunteers are gaining professional experience by helping out fellow students and community members with a free tax assistance program at Southwestern College.... READ MORE
The San Diego Contracting Opportunities Center (SDCOC), an economic development program of Southwestern College, will host a Speed Partnering event that will connect small businesses with government buyers and large prime contractors.... READ MORE