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Cuesta cuts some, modifies some

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Cuesta College said goodbye to 10 entire programs at its last Board of Trustees meeting, but it could have been worse. In an effort to address long-term financial concerns and trim roughly $800,000 from the annual budget, school officials met several times over the last two months to rank 29 programs for possible elimination. People expected that the top 15 would be lost.

The Planning and Budget Committee determined the potential savings from each program on Dec. 4, and President Gil Stork used the figures to devise a mixed bag of modifications and cuts he presented to the Board of Trustees on Dec. 12.

“It’s not the best thing to do, but when the state cuts our budget, we have to shrink the size of the college,” Stork said.

Faculty leaders opposed the cuts and criticized the program-ranking process, calling for more time to develop alternative options. Academic Senate President Kevin Bontenbal recommended that the board revisit its policies on establishing a larger-than-required contingency fund and said his group was left out of the ranking process.

“Alternative plans have been offered at every step along the way,” Bontenbal said. “Unfortunately, they’ve been dismissed.”

The board voted unanimously to adopt Stork’s recommendations.

The eliminated programs include physical science, workplace readiness, vocational English as second language, real estate, fashion design and merchandising, ag technology, hospitality, culinary arts, digital art, and dance.

The following programs were modified to varying degrees or combined with similar programs: drama, music-audio tech, broadcast communications, library/information, construction technology, computer applications/office administration, electrical tech, German, French, legal, computer and networking tech, and architecture.

Interior design was suspended, but could come back if adequate revisions can be realized.

According to the staff report, the eliminated programs will be phased out over three semesters, which will buy students some time to complete degrees before classes vanish. The changes will impact 189 full-time students in all and save $764,275, mostly in wages for part-time faculty members.

Ed. Note: This article was changed on Dec. 20 to correct a miswording in the first sentence. Of the 10 programs Cuesta College cut, six offered degrees or certificates.

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