A proposed reorganization plan to meet budget deficits and a steady decline in enrollments in the area has increased attention regarding Cerro Coso Community College's operation in the Kern River Valley. Inaccurate information has been released to the media based on fears, not facts.
The college released the proposed reorganization for input through their participatory governance process. The participatory governance structure at Cerro Coso provides opportunity for all constituent groups including: students, classified, faculty, and administration to participate in the planning process through representation. Through a spirit of transparency, cooperation, and collaboration the main body of the participatory process, the College Council, addresses all major governance issues and strategic planning for the college.
The College Council is addressing best and worst case budget scenarios, both of which will result in a reduction to the college budget, and strategically planning how to best meet the needs of the rural communities we serve.
The proposed reorganization includes restructuring staff resulting in reductions at all five campuses of Cerro Coso Community College. The College has no intention of leaving the communities of the Kern River Valley, even though enrollments have dropped at the KRV Outreach 43% since 2008. A vast majority of that decline has taken place in the last two years. Since fall of 2010 enrollments are down 393, or 36.5%, with last year being the largest drop. For example, this fall Cerro Coso offered over 190 seats in humanity courses, core mission classes, at KRV, of which less than 100 were filled. Consequently, college administrators have been exploring strategic scheduling options that will better meet the needs of the KRV students.
For more than five years the college has been looking for a better educational environment that will increase the exposure, and increase the college going rate of high school students. The lease on the current facility is up in July of 2013 and Cerro Coso has entered into discussions with Kern High School about the possibility of moving the operation to their location. The result of these discussions are not subject to the outcome of the November vote, but are an effort to increase enrollments, improve the learning environment for students, and partner with the high school, which will also offer them some fiscal relief.
The move will be of benefit to high school students in the ECHO program because they will not have to leave campus to attend their concurrent college classes that will continue to be offered during the day in a designated college classroom. Cerro Coso is also partnering with the local hospital in moving forward to offer a Licensed Vocational Nursing Program in the KRV beginning in 2014.
Two local forums were held, one in the spring of 2011 and another in the spring of 2012, to address the needs of the communities. The results of those discussions include the need for lifelong fitness and music classes for retirees. Cerro Coso recognizes this need and is exploring the availability of less costly space to offer community education classes that are more affordable for the retired community.
"These changes should not come as a shock to the communities," stated Cerro Coso President Jill Board. "We've been having this open dialogue for two years. We've taken the input, we've analyzed the numbers, and we are strategically planning to meet their needs the best way we can with the limited financial resources we have."
Pathways to completion have been developed to help students get the classes they need to graduate. Courses will be offered in a structured way that will allow the college to commit to course offerings, streamline transfers, and decrease time to completion. These changes are designed to enhance the quality of education across the college.
A lot hinges on the outcome of the November vote, and Cerro Coso Community College must prepare for either scenario. The College cares greatly about the higher educational needs of the Kern River Valley communities. "The message is clear. We may not look the same but whatever we do, we will do well," concluded Board.For further information, please contact Natalie Dorrell, Public Information (760) 384-6260