Santa Rosa Junior College should be in the midst of the first wave of summer school registration.
Instead, the school put the process on pause last week while administrators scrambled to slash the number of courses available and lay off teachers.
The new schedule, expected to be completed t Wednesday<NO>, will reduce classroom faculty by 16 percent from last summer, thinning the number of classes by a similar amount. It's the latest in a series of budget cuts at the school.
"The fat was cut a long time ago," said Doug Roberts, vice president of business services. "Now we're cutting bone."
The school reacted after hearing increasingly bleak news out of Sacramento. SRJC officials had hoped to escape the coming budget year with a $5 million reduction in its state funding, and was planning on a 10 percent cut to summer faculty.
But then it became clear that Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to seek a special June election to extend current tax rates was not going to happen so the school began bracing for a $12 million cut, Roberts said.
Reducing the number of full-time equivalent faculty by 16 percent in the summer and by 11.5 percent in the fall and spring should save the school about $3.3 million, Roberts said.
But some students worry it could also have a bruising impact on them. Travis Hayes, a SRJC football player, said when he arrived in spring 2008, students seemed able to get whatever class they wanted.
This past January, by contrast, one of his classes in political science began with an overflow of 50 people, many sitting on the floor hoping to be added by the teacher. On Monday, that teacher warned students to be vigilant about signing up quickly for next year's classes or risk losing out altogether.
"It's crazy how times have changed," said Hayes, who is transferring this fall. "I'm lucky, I'm leaving now instead of in a year."
But Mary Kay Rudolph, vice president for academic affairs, said the school has worked hard to spare transfer and vocational students by protecting core areas. Math, English and life science classes have mostly been left alone this summer, she said.
"The cuts are going to be very uneven and very specific and directed and targeted," she said. "If you plan ahead you'll minimize the number of classes you can't take."
But subjects such as PE, music and art are more at risk. James Forkum, dean of PE, dance and athletics, has nearly halved his PE classes this summer.
Amanda Swan, student body president, said Tuesday she was talking to an art history class about the budget cuts and could feel the frustration. "It looked like I was talking to 60 defeated students," she said.
Still, PE and art will escape lightly compared to SRJC's older-adult program, which provides art, music, writing and other classes to students at senior centers and other off-campus locations.
The summer program long has been in budgetary cross-hairs. In 2009, it offered 308 classes. In 2010, it offered 154. And this summer, it was set to offer 83 until school leaders pulled the plug altogether this week. A decision has yet to be made if the program will resume in the fall.
"I was out painting the apple blossoms in Sebastopol and when I came home there was an email that said &‘important message,'" said Judy Butler, who teaches pastels and painting class in the program. "I was shocked to be told I was laid off by email."