Media briefed on Prop. 30

A statewide media teleconference to educate student journalists on the effects of state budget cuts to public education is scheduled for this afternoon. Initiated by the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, the discussion will include analysis of the possible outcomes of the success or failure of Proposition 30, Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax initiative in the Nov. 6 ballot.

Federal law states that it is illegal to use government resources for political campaign. Paige Dorr, the CCCCO’s director of communications, said that the teleconference is a way to inform student journalists without taking a stance in the proposition itself.

“As a government agency the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office cannot take a specific position of support for ballot initiatives nor can we advocate for them.”

“We can, however, let the public know about the implications of the passage or failure of Prop. 30 and Prop. 38,” Dorr said.

The call is scheduled for 3 p.m. and people will be listening in from an estimated 30 different community colleges. Erik Skinner, CCC acting chancellor will be the primary presenter, with help from, Dan Troy, CCC vice chancellor for college finance and facilities planning and Rich Copenhagen, president of the CCC student senate.

They have invited student editors and reporters and faculty advisers from community college student newspapers to participate. According to a media advisory from the CCCCO, the teleconference call will include discussion about the current state of the community colleges system, results of the fall budget survey and how the passage or failure of Prop. 30 will affect community colleges statewide.

If Prop. 30 fails, CCC will face mid-year budget cuts of $338 million in addition to the $809 million that has been cut since 2008.

CCC is the largest community college system in the nation, but schools are offering nearly 25 percent fewer courses than they were in 2008. Enrollment has also decreased from 2.9 million students during the 2008-09 school year to 2.4 million students this year.

If voters pass Prop. 30 the California Community College system is expected to receive $210 million in additional funding. The money, however is only a portion of the $961 million currently owed to community colleges.

In addition, 165-180 classes could be added to Citrus College’s schedule, according to Susan Keith, board of trustees vice president. Assuming that there are 30 students in each class, that would amount to 6000 new opportunities for students,

Although community colleges stand to benefit from the passage of Prop. 30 they can’t openly promote it. However, they are taking efforts to inform voters, said David Tate, editor-in-chief of the Citrus College Clarion.

“If you read student newspapers around you’ll see editorials that are going behind it, in support of it. You’ll see budget proposals that look drastically different with Prop. 30 passing and failing . . . Schools aren’t explicitly saying that they back Prop. 30, but they all support it,” Tate said.

Meanwhile, California State University officials are taking a bolder approach.

CSU is sending a letter to every applicant stating that the number of students who will be accepted depends on whether or not Prop. 30 passes. It also informs applicants that CSU will not be sending out acceptance or rejection letters until November instead of their usual October dates in 2008.

CSU trustees have also said that if Prop. 30 fails they will be raising tuition by 5 percent approximately $7500. If, however, Prop. 30 is passed, CSU will rescind a previous tuition hike of 9 percent and reimburse students for the difference.

Community college staff and students and CSU applicants will be waiting for the Nov. 6 results.