Debbie Pfeiffer Trunnell, Staff Writer
Posted: 12/18/2009 04:50:32 PM PST

San Bernardino area college students who struggled to get into much-needed classes in 2009 won’t have it any easier in 2010.

More class sections are being cut due to the budget crisis, which means a bleak winter across the board for everyone at the local community colleges and universities.

“One-time San Bernardino Community College District savings from the previous budget year allowed for section cuts to be minimal, but the demand for programs and services at both our colleges continues to climb without state funding to support it,” said Debra Daniels, president of San Bernardino Valley College. “And we are thereby forced to live within the reality of our budgets.”

To save money at San Bernardino Valley College, a directive was recently given to each of the academic deans to eliminate a certain percentage of courses in their areas.

At the same time, priority was given to preserving access to essential sections for students aiming to transfer to CSU/UC, career/technical courses for certifications or degrees that can lead directly to jobs and basic skills level courses that prepare students for college-level instruction.

In addition, the first session of summer school for 2010 has been cancelled.

Details on the viability of a second term of summer school for 2010 are still being determined and will be announced at a later time.

This comes at a time when demand for classes is extremely high and many classes have been full for weeks, said Daniels.

“The economic downturn and cutbacks at CSU/UC have created a perfect storm that continues to increase the demand for programs and services at both SBVC and Crafton Hills College,” she said.

One of the reasons for the current situation is that community college budgets are cut up into categories, limiting the amount of money they have to pay part-time instructors. That money is reserved for other needs, said Scott Rippy, academic senate president for Crafton Hills College in Yucaipa.

“Because of the structure of the budget at community colleges when hard times fall, the ones who suffer the most are students and part-time instructors,” he said. “Our concerns are in a time of economic crisis when we have more students than ever clamoring at our doors, we are turning away more students than we have in the last five years, because we don’t have the classes to offer them.”

At Cal State San Bernardino, approximately 240 class sections have been cut for winter quarter, including core subjects like math and English, said Andy Bodman, provost for Cal State San Bernardino.

“We are going to see a couple of things as a result,” he said. “It’s likely that for students, other than seniors, their progress toward degree completion will be slower. For faculty the largest effect is on part-time faculty, we obviously will be employing fewer of them.”

The other shoe will fall during the 2010-11 school year, when funding in excess of $11 million is cut.

Also in the future is cutting Cal State San Bernardino’s enrollment under direction from the system to 13,000 for the next school year, at a time when the university is seeing record applications.

“We will be declaring impaction in the next few weeks because we simply cannot meet our enrollment target without having some additional criteria for admission,” said Bodman. “It all poses significant challenges for Cal State schools. And it’s not good news for students trying to get here.”

At Cal Poly Pomona, the budget cuts have affected the entire campus community, said Uyen Mai, spokeswoman for the university.

The impact was most felt when the university cancelled summer quarter 2009.

Ultimately, that had a more positive impact on the upcoming winter quarter.

“Because we were able to cancel the summer quarter, we were able to protect the traditional academic year much more,” Mai said. “We are offering 95 percent of classes we offered last year.”

Still the sum total of the cuts has been hard on students.

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