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Calif. community colleges feel pinch of cuts

February 22, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
California community colleges are struggling to deal with recent budget cuts totaling more than $500 million. To make matters worse, more cuts are looming.

The latest budget axe was felt throughout the entire community college system, which has more than 100 schools.

Pasadena City College officials say that after sustaining numerous cuts during the financial crisis, they got hit this month with this latest budget blow.

Officials said it has forced them to scrap 45 classes and send 50 faculty members into early retirement.

"The cut is actually $149 million and $2.8 million to PCC," said the college's president, Dr. Mark Rocha. "These are the mid-year cuts from the state, not from the colleges or from our board."

Some PCC students say they are so fed up with budget cuts and class reductions, they are thinking about dropping out.

They say even getting a fraction of needed classes per semester is becoming a challenge.

"It takes forever," said student Jonathan Martinez. "It's just a hassle. I wanted to quit so bad and it's barely my first year. Last semester I got one class."

PCC officials say the state has told them to brace for even deeper cuts next year throughout the community college system.

"You are talking in the order of about a $300 million cut," Rocha said. "It would amount to a $5 million cut to PCC, unless Gov. Brown's tax initiative passes in November."

The governor says the state is facing a $9 billion deficit for the fiscal year that starts in July.