So Cal education, LAUSD, the Cal States and the UCs

California's revised budget: Public higher education faces continued budget crunch

Gov. Jerry Brown

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

California Gov. Jerry Brown speaks during a news conference on May 14, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. Brown proposes $8.3 billion cuts in California to help close a projected $16 billion budget shortfall.

It’s time to hold your nose and take a hard swallow. As Governor Jerry Brown disclosed the latest revised budget for the state, he said it’s time for Californians to take their medicine. The projected budget deficit has hit almost $16 billion, far greater than officials anticipated just five months ago.

That'll mean some "painful cuts" for the state's higher education institutions. 

That is unless voters pass a tax initiative intended to maintain the state’s public school budget at its present level. That still keeps California’s higher education spending well below Kentucky’s, Mississippi’s, and West Virginia’s.
 
If the tax ballot measure fails, the University of California and California State systems would each receive $250 million less than they did this year. That’s $50 million more in cuts than projected back in January.

Lars Walton, a vice chancellor at UC Irvine, said the cuts project a bleak future ahead for the UC system alongside with administrative cuts it’s already made.

"We’ve laid off, system wide, 4,400 employees," says Walton. "Eliminated close to 4,000 positions, deferred academic hiring, cut academic programs, and certainly that has pulled back the university as far as we can go. So there’s little that we can do anymore in terms of wiggle room on the edges."

The Cal State system also operates on the fiscal edge. At Cal State Long Beach, the school faces a deficit of about $34 million according to President King Alexander.

"That’s equivalent to us basically closing the entire College of Business and the entire College of Engineering," he said. 

In preparation for more reductions, Alexander said all 23 Cal State campuses have already closed enrollment for the Spring 2013 semester. That means Cal state schools won’t admit any transfer students mid-year. The system’s also considering waitlisting the entire incoming class for the 2013 Fall semester.

The situation is just as dire at community colleges. Jonathan Lightman is executive director of the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges. He hopes that the potential consequences of state budget cuts will move voters in November.  

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Good news? More students want to go to UC schools; Bad news? More will be turned away

California University Students Demonstrate Statewide For Increased Funding For Education

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Eleven UCLA students sit in a circle after in the intersection of Westwood and Wilshire boulevards as part of a protest of bank practices and rising fees at public universities before they were arrested by are arrested by Los Angeles Police Department on November 9, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. The protest organized by ReFund California was one of several planned at universities around the state.

The University of California released its applications numbers for fall 2012 today. Maybe not the most exciting reading, but here are some interesting highlights:

Applications are up across the board from in-state, out-of-state and international students. Kate Jeffery, UC's interim director of undergraduate admissions, attributed this to a general trend across the nation of students "hedging their bets and not just applying to private institutions" any more.

In numbers:

  • UC saw a 56 percent increase in freshman applications from out-of-state and international students, which brought the applicant figures up from 21,095 to 33,001 for fall 2012. (Out-of-state applicants went from 12,759 to 19,128 and international applicants from 8,336 to 13,873.)
  • Apps from California residents were up 9.8 percent to 93,298. ("From the point of view of affordability, students affected by the economy may be considering UC instead of just a private education," Jeffery said.) Jeffery also said the increase might be because of the system's decision to drop the SAT II subject test requirement for applicants this year.
  • Overall, there was a record high of 160,939 students who applied to UC, up 13.2 percent from last year. UCLA specifically saw a 12.7 percent increase in apps, with freshmen apps specifically up by 19.1 percent.

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Smokers will be persona non grata on all UC campuses soon

Mercer 14913

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Hospitals are increasingly saying no to hiring smokers.

Smokers won't be allowed to light up too much longer at University of California campuses.

UC President Mark Yudof announced this week that all 10 of the system's schools must ban smoking within the next two years.

UCLA went "smoke free" in certain areas of campus two months ago — specifically indoor and outdoor areas of hospitals and health sciences campuses in Westwood and Santa Monica, and also buildings along a research corridor. (Check out a map.)

The new policy has gone off without a hitch, despite some anxiety before it went into effect, said UCLA professor Timothy Fong, who was part of the task force that worked on the new policy. Now, however, he said there's been a visible increase of smoking and cigarette butts outside the smoke-free zones.

"That's all the more reason why a campus-wide effort would be a tremendous service for enforcing these policies," Fong said.

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LAUSD examines plan to up student enrollment

An empty classroom

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A typical classroom.

Superintendent John Deasy painted an ominous picture of the school district's budget for the coming year at Tuesday's LAUSD board meeting. The district is looking at a $543 million budget deficit for 2012-13. He raised the possibility of putting a parcel tax before voters on the November ballot to help raise revenue for schools. If Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed 2012 budget is approved and his initiative to temporarily increase taxes is passed by voters in November, the district would receive about $237 million in state funding, Deasy said. If not, K-12 education would be cut by $4.8 billion. Thousands of employees could face layoffs, entire programs could be cut, and months of school might be lost, Deasy told boardmembers.

The board unanimously approved a resolution (6-0, board member Bennett Kayser wasn't present) to examine expanding magnet school, dual immersion and IB program enrollment to remedy the district's declining enrollment numbers. The district also agreed look at expanding Gifted and Talented Education testing to all students, not just those whose parents or teachers ask. The resolution also asks the district to review the risks and benefits of allowing families the ability to choose multiple magnet schools (instead of just one) during the application process.

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California's community colleges change their priorities

California University Cuts

Rich Pedroncelli/AP

California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott, told lawmakers that budget cuts to the community colleges, have increased class size and made it more difficult for students to get into classes while appearing before a joint Legislative hearing at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Monday, Dec. 7, 2009.

At the California Community Colleges — the world's largest such system with 112 campuses serving about 2.6 million students — only about 54 percent of the students earn a certificate, a degree or transfer to a four-year institution.

That number drops further for students who are African-American (42 percent) or Latino (43 percent).

Here's another stat: Last year 137,000 students were flat-out turned away by the system. They couldn't even get into one course.

Well, no longer. Or that's what the system hopes.

The governing board of the Californa Community Colleges approved a set of reforms (22, to be exact) Monday that aims to streamline the path to student graduation, certification and transfers. Recommendations include prioritizing registration and fee-waivers for students who have declared these education goals.

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