City College of San Francisco (CCSF) serves approximately 70,000 credit and noncredit students on 8 campuses and centers across the city and is one of the largest multi-campus, single-administration community college districts in California. Its total annual budget is nearly $200 million and comes from state budget allocations, revenue from prior local bond measures, taxes, tuition, grants, and foundation awards for specific programs. The system is governed by an elected board of seven trustees and a student trustee as well as a Chancellor. Trustees are elected for four-year terms on a staggered basis, and this year four of the seats are up for election.
Established in 1935, CCSF has a long history of serving the San Francisco community. With continual cuts to the education budget at the state level as well as an attempt to privatize education, CCSF students and faculty have suffered. Students are unable to enroll in the classes that they need due to classes being cut and faculty have been forced to add to their course loads in ways that decrease their ability to give each student the attention that they would otherwise give. With continued statewide budget cuts across higher education, the burden put on CCSF resources has made it difficult to serve the community in the way that CCSF can and should.
Adding to the burden is the current crisis that City College faces in the threat of loss of accreditation. The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), the accrediting agency for higher education institutions, conducted a regular evaluation review of San Francisco City College in 2012, a review that is conducted on all accredited institutions every six years. WASC’s Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) came back with a sobering report, issuing a “Show Cause” order. The ACCJC issues a Show Cause order when it feels that an institution in not in compliance with agency accreditation standards, including federal guidelines. This order required the college to show why its accreditation should not be withdrawn. The report detailed 14 recommendations to be addressed, including eight recommendations that were never addressed in the 2006 evaluation review report. None of the recommendations dealt with the quality of the education. Rather, they were all related to finances and governance issues. Shortly after this, the state chancellor removed the powers of the elected board and appointed a special trustee to City College to make all decisions.
After a contentious three years, nearly all of the recommendations have been addressed. The ACCJC granted CCSF “restoration status,” a special status that granted CCSF an additional two years to come into full compliance with the accreditation standards. Currently, CCSF remains open and accredited. In early 2015, the elected board began having its powers restored, and by Fall 2015, the board resumed full authority while the special trustee continues to serve in an advisory capacity. In the meantime, a successful lawsuit against the ACCJC by the City Attorney’s Office determined that the accrediting agency violated state law and federal regulations related to due process in its “show cause” action. This successful lawsuit led to further investigations by the state board of governors and the federal accreditation regulators. The state board recently voted to send a task force report recommending replacing the ACCJC as the accrediting agency to the US Department of Education (DOE). And in December 2015, the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) voted to recommend to the DOE that it deny the ACCJC from broadening its scope to the baccalaureate level and that it give the ACCJC six months to come into compliance itself.
With all of this turmoil, City College has had an enrollment crisis, which impacts its funding levels.
The current board is one of the most cohesive, functioning boards that the college has seen in a very long time. We are all committed to increasing enrollment and rebuilding City College to serve our community to its fullest capacity.
Community colleges were founded on the principles of availability, accessibility, and affordability for all. My goal is to find creative revenue streams that will allow CCSF to continue its important work.