Board Meeting Highlights

Mt. San Jacinto Community College will maintain student services, accommodate growth and protect college staff members’ jobs during the state’s fiscal woes, officials told board members during a special meeting on Jan. 24.

The board of trustees held a budget workshop at the Menifee Valley Campus Learning Resource Center to review what Gov. Schwarzenegger’s proposed 2008-09 state budget could mean for the district.

The governor is proposing a $40 million cut to community colleges in 2007-08 and a $483 million reduction in 2008-09, among other reductions. It won’t be clear until the state Legislature takes action by February 23 how Mt. San Jacinto Community College will be affected, officials said.

The district will pore over the current budget to identify uncommitted funds. Officials will ask the board in March to place that money in reserves. The district also plans to roll its current budget into 2008-09 and keep spending flat.

Dr. Jon Tyler, who reiterated the theme of “stability, conservative, flexible,” said reorganizations in departments such as Student Services and Instruction have resulted in savings and increased efficiency.

He assured the board that the district will maintain class schedules and the current adopted budget. He also said the district will not turn any students away and will not have lay-offs.

“If there’s one place I would like to be now in the community college system … it would be here” at MSJC, Dr. Tyler said to the board. “I am not scared … The only thing I want to know is ‘State, what are you going to do?’ so we can make a decision.”

Catalina Cruz, dean of Business Services, provided the board with the main points of the proposed state budget.

She said any potential cuts at the state level will not affect community colleges the same. For instance, the proposed state budget calls for funding a 1 percent enrollment growth instead of 3 percent. Most community colleges are reporting enrollment of between 2 and 4 percent, but Mt. San Jacinto College is about 8 percent.

“We are on the top average of the chart. That’s why … we are confident we are going to weather this,” Cruz said.

The district has $5.6 million to cover capital improvements like replacing energy management and fire alarm equipment and paying for damage caused by the October windstorm, said Dennis Hogan, interim vice president of Business Services. It does not have the $4.1 million it needs to accomplish Phase II of the Facilities Master Plan upgrades to electrical switch gear and other needs, he said.

Hogan said the district would need to ask voters to pass a capital improvement bond measure by 2010 in order to secure the matching funds the district needs to continue with improvements.

John Seed, Academic Senate representative, asked the board to keep in mind funding for department chair restructuring and fiscal incentives for department chairs involved in developing programs for the new Temecula Education Complex.

Seed also said he will bring a response forward to the board on a proposal by Dr. Tyler to make three to five existing interim positions permanent and hire no additional permanent positions.

All board members, Joan Sparkman, Eugene Kadow, Dorothy McGargill, Ann Motte and Gwendolyn Schlange, were present.