The incumbent Delta College trustees up for re-election in November like to present themselves as fiscally prudent. But are students getting maximum benefit from the college's income?
The incumbents can point to large carryovers for their first two budgets. Figures for the 2011-2012 fiscal year will not be available until November. In 2009-2010, the incumbents budgeted a carryover of $6.86 million; the actual carryover was $10.62 million — an excess of $3.76 million. In 2010-2011, the trustees budgeted a carryover of $9.25; the actual carryover was $13.34 — an excess of $4.09 million. (Source: Fiscal Standards Unit of the Chancellor's Office, Annual Budget Reports.)
The budgeted carryover is a fiscal baseline — a figure required for the college's financial security. Anything beyond that fiscal baseline might seem like financial "gravy." But is it? A section of a 3-unit course costs roughly $4,235. If only $1 million dollars of the $3.76 and $4.09 excess carryovers had been spent on access for students, the college could have offered in each of these years 230 more sections in crucial, high-demand courses. The incumbents chose to narrow access and "bank" the entire excess carryover.
There is a crying need for educational access in our region. I believe there is also a need for board members who can multi-task, who can be responsible to the fiscal bottom line and the educational needs of students — a bottom line that deserves more attention than it's been receiving lately.
Professor of English, retired