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Vista College has more interest and fewer funds

By Jeffrey Obser Daily Planet Correspondent
Monday September 10, 2001

The sky hasn’t fallen at Vista College in Berkeley. But the staff, contemplating rising enrollments and energy costs, are beginning to wonder what will happen to the quality of education if the state government does not restore the equipment and repair money it axed from this year’s community college budget. 

“We need new computers, which we won’t get,” said Marline Jenning, staff assistant to the vice president, taking a break at the college’s Milvia Way headquarters on Friday. “I think it’s going to affect the students because they won’t get the access they need.” 

“It’ll affect personnel, and eventually, enrollment,” said Gladys Henderson, who works in student services. 

In July, Gov. Gray Davis cited the need to keep the state budget lean this year in case reduced economic productivity yielded less tax revenue and cut $126 million statewide from community colleges’ capital and special projects funds. 

The cut did not affect operating budgets, which are linked to enrollment. The colleges receive a set subsidy of $3,800 per student taking 12 units a semester, according to Vista spokesperson Shirley Fogarino. The district saw an overall enrollment increase of 5 percent at its four campuses and the system’s general funds are up 3.2 percent for the 2001-2002 fiscal year, according to the California Legislative Analyst’s office. 

The budget cuts represent only a small a percentage of that overall operating budget. Jeffrey Haiman, spokesman for the Peralta Community College District — comprised of the College of Alameda and Vista, Laney and Merritt colleges — said $3 million to $4 million would go missing this year, compared to an annual operating budget of approximately $100 million.