City College of San Francisco (CCSF) has long been a unique and kindly institution in many ways. But now its chancellor has announced the cancellation of its beloved Older Adults program, which provided 64 free, non-credit courses to around 2,000 SF residents in their 70s and 80s.
"We need to call attention to this attack on older adults in San Francisco," says faculty member Robert Fitch in an email to student advocates obtained by the Chronicle. Fitch says that the cancellation of this program is "just the first strike planned by Chancellor Mark Rocha" as he makes broad cuts to close a $13 million operating deficit. The cuts are part of the 345 classes that have been slashed from the spring 2020 roster.
The decades-old Older Adults program, which includes classes in music, figure drawing, theater, literature, and tai chi, often hosts its classes in senior centers around San Francisco. Cutting these 64 classes will save the school about $1 million, per the Chronicle.
Among the for-credit classes for regular students that are being cut for next semester are Elementary German, Intro to Museum Studies, Electronic Music Lab, Beginning Golf, Women/Gender in Middle East, Colonial History of Latin America, Politics of Globalization, Conversational Filipino, and Internet of Things.
City College began last year with a $32 million budget gap, which it has since shrunk to $13 million following the elimination of 634 classes since 2017. The announcement of 345 more classes to be cut was made before Thanksgiving, with Vice Chancellor Tom Boegel saying that the cuts were necessary for the school to maintain a 5 percent budgetary reserve.
As you may recall, CCSF has had a rough few years and it nearly lost its accreditation in 2014, and then got bailed out by the state to the tune of about $39 million per year. That funding went away in 2017, and now Chancellor Rocha says the school is focused on graduating more low-income and non-white students — metrics that will begin affecting how the state allocates funding for public colleges in the coming years.
To that end, many non-credit classes have been canceled, and Rocha says that the school is making necessary cuts and changes to live within its means and keep the lights on for its 65,000 full- and part-time students. In a letter to the Board of Supervisors last month, Rocha said, "I am fully aware of the emails you are receiving from CCSF students who are appealing for funds to restore classes that have not been budgeted for the spring. [But we] are handling this difficult situation directly here at the college."
And it seems that restructuring was in the cards regardless. The school has reportedly lost nearly 22,000 full-time students from its ranks in the last decade, which amounts to $95 million in funding from the state. Come 2021, 20 percent of the school's funding will depend on how many low-income and undocumented students it enrolls, and another 10 percent will come from improving their graduation rates.
As of 2017, City College has been free to all San Francisco residents under a program that also provides books to low-income students.