It's been six years since SF City College nearly lost its accreditation over a variety of financial and mismanagement issues, and now the California accreditation board has once again put the school on its "enhanced monitoring" list due to its ongoing financial woes.
The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges reported on the new status for the school this week, though it says City College is in the lowest "at-risk" category. The school now has until December 4 to address six specific issues cited by the commission.
One issue appears to be the high turnover in leadership at the school, which includes the abrupt resignation by Chancellor Mark Rocha in March. Rocha resigned under pressure after facing broad pushback for cuts he announced to classes, and he simultaneously tried raising executive salaries with little or no public notice.
As the Chronicle reports, interim Chancellor Raj Vurdien won praise from Stephanie Droker, the president of the accrediting commission, for his candor in their conversations. Vurdien publicly posted the letter from Droker about the "enhanced monitoring," and Vurdien says, "Enhanced Monitoring is not a sanction."
Among the other issues Droker cites that need addressing are the average $13 million deficits the college has had for the past three years, and net operating revenue of -8.3 percent over that same period.
"As you know, federal regulations and ACCJC policy require the Commission to monitor member institutions’ fiscal stability annually, as part of its accreditation review, in order to ensure that accredited institutions are able to continue to meet their missions and ensure ongoing viability for the students they serve," Droker writes.
City College has suffered since losing $39 million per year in stopgap funding from the state in 2017, and due to declining enrollment which effects the amount of funding it receives from the state. Also, the board notes that salaries accounted for over 92 percent of the college's entire budget in the 2018-2019 year.
In December, when Rocha announced the cancellation of a group of beloved non-credit courses geared toward senior citizens, he said that the school needed to focus on for-credit courses, and on graduating more low-income and non-white students — which would bring the school greater state funding.
City College had 65,000 full- and part-time students as of last year. But in its declining enrollment, that is 22,000 fewer students than it had a decade ago.