SRJC will add up to 500 new classes in 2013-'14

Santa Rosa Junior College announced Friday plans to restore up to 500 classes eliminated by persistent budget cuts, enabling students to earn academic degrees and technical education certificates more quickly.

Officials said the courses would be added over the upcoming summer, fall and spring sessions, and thanked voters for passing Proposition 30, the tax measure that reaped $6.3 million for SRJC and made the class expansion possible.

"This will do wonders," said school President Frank Chong. SRJC, founded in 1918, has been battered by state-mandated budget cuts for the past four years.

The 30,000-student college has experienced a "supply problem" by cutting course offerings at a time when student demand for classes "is at an all-time high," Chong said.

Boosting the number of English, mathematics and science classes in particular will help students earn the core credits needed to transfer to state colleges and universities, he said.

Mary Kay Rudolph, SRJC's vice president of academic affairs, said the plan will restore nearly half of the classes eliminated as the state's slumping economy prompted funding cuts to the 112-school community college system.

"It's been cut, cut, cut," she said, with long lines at registration, students being turned away and "frustration all over the state."

On SRJC's sun-splashed quad Friday afternoon, Jazmine Whitlock attested to the impact.

"It's really crazy now," said Whitlock, a Montgomery High School graduate who completed an associate degree at SRJC in 2010 and returned this spring for an astronomy lab class with 40 students, the most ever, she said.

Two years ago, a conversational French class had about 10 students and is now packed with more than 40 students, she said.

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