Photo by Jon Leckie
Peralta Community College District Chancellor, Dr. Jose Ortiz has announced the addition of up to 200 new classes across all four district campuses for the upcoming spring semester that begins Jan. 22.
“Immediately, we will be adding 200 strategically selected sections to our existing spring schedule of classes,” Ortiz said. “Each of the Peralta Colleges will be adding sections, and the deans, vice presidents and presidents will be working closely with faculty to determine which classes and sections will be added to our schedule.”
The new class sections were made possible by the passage of Proposition 30, which raises the state sales tax by a quarter of a percent and imposes higher income taxes on those earning more than $250,000 a year. The proposition is expected to bring in $6 billion annually in additional state tax revenue through 2017. The Peralta Community College District will see approximately $5.5 million added to its general fund in 2013.
Additional class sections will be spread across the four district colleges, which include Laney College, Merritt College, College of Alameda and Berkeley City College. New sections range from traditional and core curriculum courses in English, Math and Science, to art classes, vocational training and technology classes.
According to Jeff Heyman, the district’s executive director of public information, communications and media, most of the additional offerings are not new classes, but additional sections of classes that already exist, or existed in the past.
“While this restoration allows us to build back many of the class sections and services that have been provided in the past, the $5.5 million is only a start to the restoration process,” Ortiz said. “We’re also looking to further promote our spring 2013 schedule to attract additional students.”
Over the last three years, the district has had to cut approximately $20 million from its budget in response to declining state funding.
“All of us appreciate the additional offerings and know that through our efforts more students will benefit from the quality teaching that we provide at the Peralta Colleges,” said Ortiz.
The new funds and sections will allow the district, which serves approximately 27,000 students, to serve 700 additional full time students this year. However, that number falls well short of the estimated 3000 students who were unable to gain access to classes over the last several years.
According to Heyman, the additional funds and classes will bring the district up to 2011 levels in terms of class offerings, still well below peak numbers from 2008.
But while district class offerings are expanding, new legislation in Sacramento is gearing up to put tighter restrictions on priority registration at community colleges by 2014.
SB 1456, authored with help from California community college’s Student Success Task Force and signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown last September, will amend current California community college registration policies giving priority in registration to students with stated academic or vocational goals and fewer than 100 units, as well as veterans, active military, disabled students and foster youth.
Also being affected is access to the Board of Governors Fee Waiver, commonly referred to as the BOG fee waiver, which waives course fees for low-income students. Eligible students will now need to meet academic and progress standards to receive assistance.
Students will also be required to participate in orientation, assessment and counseling. Included in this provision is a requirement that students declare an academic and career goal upon application, and a specific course of study soon after enrollment.