H-SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY

Apr 5, 2012 2:23 AM by Ariel Wesler

Trustees approve cuts and layoffs for Cuesta College

The Board of Trustees for Cuesta College approved a budget reduction plan Wednesday night that includes more than a dozen layoffs and furlough days. The 2012-2013 budget proposal also asked 50 full and part time employees to take pay cuts.

It's been a long road for Cuesta College and so many of California's community colleges, struggling to keep classes and employees.

Meanwhile, Cuesta leaders say at this point, they've got nothing left to cut but people.

"I think it's very sad that we don't value education as much as everywhere else in the world," said Geoffrey Herz.

He's studying computer science at Cuesta College and has seen the impact from previous budget cuts.

"There are plenty of classes that fill up very fast. You have to talk to the professors and they try to work around it too," he said. "Everyone's doing the best they can."

In the last three years, the school has been forced to cut more than 350 class sections. Now, school leaders say the bulk of the cuts will hit home.

"When we get into this magnitude over this period of time, we have to move into how we can run the college, run our business with less people," said Cuesta College President Gil Stork.

26 classified positions, those are jobs outside the classroom, will be eliminated. Of those, 16 will get pink slips.

"I do not believe that the classified unit, the lowest paid unit here, should have to take the brunt of this cut," said Ilene French, Vice President of Cuesta College Classified United Employees.

Stork admits it's a horrible plan--a plan that also includes 13 furlough days for employees in executive and management positions.

"It means destruction of things we've all been working to build up and that never feels good, but it's the best plan under the circumstances," Stork said.

Dire circumstances some say are leading schools and students statewide down a dangerous path.

"Without education to make a better foundation for our future, we're going to find ourselves in a big, difficult position," Herz said.

Cuesta College says it will be offering more classes this summer to help students who have had trouble getting fall and spring classes because of cuts.

Keep in mind, the state has already voted to raise student fees. Tuition will jump $36 per unit to $46 dollars, starting this summer.

The college must submit a finalized budget to the state by June 30th. More than $4.5 million already been slashed from Cuesta's current budget.

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