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Board Makes Program Cuts Final at VC

By Rebecca Wicks
Ventura Breeze
Jan. 25, 2012

There were no unexpected last minute saves when it came to the Ventura College programs that lie on the chopping block earlier this month. As expected, the Ventura County Community College District board okayed the slashing of more than 12 programs at the college.

Programs that will be eliminated at Ventura College include agriculture, architecture, business information systems, computer science, home economics, interior design, journalism, multimedia, real estate, Asian-American studies, basic English as a second language, film studies and recreation. According to district officials, the cuts are being made in an attempt to run the college more efficiently in order to close a multi-million dollar deficit.

A total of more than 20 program cuts were made across Moorpark, Oxnard and Ventura colleges. The board expects to save about $1 million with the removal of the classes and programs.

A number of teachers and advocates for saving various programs spoke at the board meeting which was held in the auditorium at Ventura High School in order to house the more than 100 meeting attendees. Many students and teachers have complained they have not been included in the process of selecting which programs were to be eliminated.

College officials disagree stating the process was inclusive and that input was gathered from department representatives. Robin Calote, president of Ventura College described a multiple-step planning and review process. According to Calote programs were asked to prepare data-driven reports in the fall that analyzed completion rates, productivity and other variables.

“Programs were given the opportunity to explain why their program should be retained or to describe plans to modify the program in order to make it more cost effective,” said Calote.

Calote along with Executive Vice President Ramino Sanchez and Vice President Dave Keebler made the final list of programs submitted to the board to be cut.

Chairman of the Board Stephen Blum warned the reduction of classes and programs was most likely not over.

“Unfortunately, this is not the beginning or the end of this process,” said Blum. “And, it doesn’t look like it’s going to end tonight.”

The president of Ventura College’s academic senate was present to oppose cutting architecture and real estate programs.

Approximately two dozen teachers gathered to protest the cuts outside the auditorium. The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) had pressed the board to tap into its reserve funds in order to save programs from elimination. According to the AFT, the cuts may affect upwards of 100 part-time faculty members.

“Yes, it’s terrible that teachers might lose their jobs, but what I’m worried about is opportunities lost for people like me – the students,” said Laura Gonzales a student at Ventura College. “College is one of the few places I feel like I can explore, and cutting programs away takes away from that.”