City College administration pushes dramatic cuts

Classes that define the school's mission are on the chopping block as the teachers' union fights back.

City College administrators have made a few concessions but still plan dramatic cuts to the school, the faculty union president said at a rally Wednesday afternoon.

“They’ve restored, apparently, the Asian American classes that were scheduled to be cut,” said Jenny Worley, president of the American Federation of Teachers Local 2121. Also receiving some restorations were the LBGT Studies and Disabled Students Programs and Services departments, she said.

Faculty and students protest cuts and a chance in direction at City College

But the vast majority of reductions administrators previously announced for next semester are still in place. At last month’s Board of Trustees meeting, Chancellor Mark Rocha said the total number of full-time equivalent faculty at the college needed to be cut from 600 to 500 to address a ballooning deficit, and a new funding model for community colleges enacted by former Gov. Jerry Brown.

Administrators were not immediately able to confirm which departments had some funding restored. Next semester’s class schedule is still a work in progress, City College spokesperson Connie Chan said, but needs to be finalized sometime before May 1 when registration opens.

“As we reallocate these resources, it is true that some academic departments will be more impacted than others,” Chancellor Mark Rocha said in a written statement.

Rocha disagrees with the characterization of classes no longer being offered as “class cuts,” instead insisting that resources are being reallocated to class sections required by students to graduate, earn a certificate, or transfer to a four-year college.

That’s a profound change to the historic mission of City College, which includes lifelong education for all San Franciscans.

Wynd Kaufmyn, AFT 2121 vice president and a City College engineering instructor, said the Computer Science department is being reduced 26 percent. The department has given 84 degrees and 118 certificates over the last three years. But 62 of the 99 class sections were enrolled below the targeted average size of 35, which “is the major reason we’re being cut,” she said.

“Those classes, every semester, fill up with students standing in the hallways with their laptops trying to get into a computer science class,” Worley said. “In the tech capital of the world, we are cutting computer science classes.”

American Sign Language classes have been reduced 44 percent next semester. Joel Gelburd, a part-time ASL instructor, said the college currently offers three levels of ASL classes and had been planning on adding a fourth, as well as a certificate program.

“Last year I had to turn students away because the classes fill up,” he said.

But as a result of the staff reductions, only two levels of classes will be offered next semester, taught by two part-time instructors instead of three. The instructor who will not have any classes assigned, due to seniority, also happens to be the only deaf instructor, Gelburd said.

Worley pointed to an ASL student who works as an EMT and has been taking ASL classes to become a medical interpreter.

“We have someone who wants to do that job, who’s already in the medical field, (and) is already learning ASL,” Worley said. “She’s ready to do that, and serve our city in that capacity, and yet we’re saying to her: No, we’re not going to let you do that.”

Worley said the union expects a large turnout at the next Board of Trustees meeting on Thursday.