Responding to public outcry over the loss of several dozen free City College classes geared toward older adults in San Francisco, the Mayor and Board of Supervisors are stepping in to restore 17 of the classes through the city's Dignity Fund.
The older-adult classes, numbering 64 as of a count earlier this month, were part of hundreds of classes that CCSF had decided to cancel over the last year in order to close a $13 million funding deficit. And while the classes are free, all classes at the college are technically free to San Francisco residents — but these were non-credit classes that were often taught off-campus, in senior centers and elsewhere. The school offered courses in writing, music appreciation, art, nutrition, and more.
Now, as the Chronicle reports, the city wants to keep 17 of the classes going, likely not under the aegis of CCSF any longer, but under the Dignity Fund. The fund was established by voter proposition in 2016, in order to support programs for the elderly and disabled. $216,000 will go to restoring the classes, which will serve residents in their 70s and 80s.
“City College is having to make some tough choices to address ongoing structural financial issues, and while that is happening we can lessen the impact for our seniors who visit our community centers to enrich their lives,” Mayor London Breed said in a statement. “Many of our older adults rely on these classes, which keep them active and connected to the community, and I’m glad we’re able to find a way to ensure that they can continue."
In total, 345 for-credit and non-credit classes have been cut from the 2020 roster at City College, across a range of disciplines. The school has closed a $32 million budget gap to $13 million as of this year, but Chancellor Mark Rocha said the latest cuts were necessary to making the school sustainable.
Earlier this month, the SF Board of Supervisors began discussing ways to restore some of the other cut classes, with Supervisor Shamann Walton seeking to appropriate $2.7 million to restore some 300 classes. Supervisor Gordon Mar was also looking to expand the funding that the city sets aside for CCSF from the Public Education Enrichment Fund (PEEF), which was established at the county level in 2004 in response to state and federal education funding cuts. The mayor countered at the time that funding for the new Mental Health SF program would have to take priority over the City College courses.