Treading water

Treading water

By The Advocate, Editorial Board

According to pre-census day enrollment data for the spring 2017 semester, Contra Costa College is nearly on par with its student headcount recorded at this time last year.

But this not a fact to celebrate.

Instead, let us examine why the Contra Costa Community College District should work with the community to implement an alternative funding metric that is not dependent on headcount, retention and a soulless definition of success.

CCC’s Admissions and Records Enrollment Report recorded 6,342 enrolled students by the end of the 2016 spring semester.

As of press time Tuesday, CCC’s student headcount for this semester is 6,941. That is a projected increase of 599 students by the Feb. 6 (Monday) census date.

An increased headcount is great, but our college still won’t see an increase in its funding.

Instead, departments at CCC are more likely to be “pruned” as funding bypasses smaller districts like ours in favor of larger districts in Southern California as well-meaning administrators cite a booming economy when faced with the question “why?”

Enrollment trends are a necessary and important discussion because:

n Headcount for the spring semester has not exceeded 8,000 in six years — since 2011. We are the smallest campus in the district, but our headcounts over the last few years have been lower than the 2000 spring semester.

n While a .04 percent drop in the figure that determines the college’s funding, Full Time Equivalent student (FTES) metric, is miniscule, it represents a continuing downward trend.

n We have not stopped borrowing funding from the summer semesters to meet state FTES benchmarks.

n CCC is projected to file for stability status again, district Communications and Community Relations Director Tim Leong said.

When a college cannot meet the FTES benchmark set by the California Community College Chancellor’s Office, schools can take on stability status as a promise to create strategic plans that would increase enrollment, retention, and transfer.

A single FTES is awarded to the district per 15 course units a student completes. So an FTES can be achieved by multiple students enrolled in different courses, but only if the student remains in the course and does not drop.

While hiring 10 full-time professors this spring for fall 2017 in various departments is a necessary step in increasing student success and our funding in theory, the hiring committees tasked with vetting applicants must be diligent about who they choose to hire.

Who is teaching a class is just as, if not more, important than getting students to pay for the $46 tuition cost.

While we must be decisive and show leadership, any group that never asks the question, “Could we be wrong?” is doomed for failure.

Do you want students to sign up for classes? Then work with groups like Reclaim California’s Higher Education who don’t want to make college affordable — they want to make it free.