Possible fallout if it fails

Charles Powell

Many important issues will be decided on Election Day and the Los Medanos College Community’s future will be shaped by a number of them from who the new commander in chief will be to who will represent Ward 5 on the Contra Costa Community College District (CCCCD) Governing Board.

Two local ballot initiatives will have particular weight for the college’s staff and students — Proposition 30 and Measure A.

The former, according to m.smartvoter.org, if approved will represent a temporary increase in both sales and personal income taxes, ensure certain amounts of money will go to local governments and curtail mandatory state support of other local matters.

The latter, Measure A, if passed will create an $11 parcel tax, which will be used to fund CCCCD three sister colleges and centers including LMC and the Brentwood center. The measure will also create a citizen oversight committee, which will ensure the monies are spent in accordance to strictures established by the measure’s language.
Dave Belman, director of Student Life and Transfer Programs, is among those who see Prop. 30 being passed as a defining moment in the future of the college’s students and its staff.

“The impact on students will be really big,” said Belman. “We’ll have to cut classes in the spring we would be able to offer if prop. 30 passed (it) goes to availability and scope of services for students.”

LMC President Bob Kratochvil said the college has had to create two versions of the Spring 2013 Class Schedule. The difference between the two is whether Proposition 30 is approved on Nov. 6 or if it fails to gain enough support.
If it passes the spring schedule will resemble the fall in terms of scope. However, if it fails the college will have to cut 105 sections.

He explained the reason for this is Governor Jerry Brown’s budget for the state’s educational system was built upon the assumption voters would pass Prop. 30, which has many voters crying foul.

The governor’s reasoning has created a situation where if the proposition passes the CCCCD will not gain money, but simply not incur a loss. However, if it fails the district will face a budgetary shortfall with LMC having to assume a $1.6 million loss for the remainder of this academic year and in future years unless the situation changes.

Kratochvil said by cutting the 105 sections the college will save approximately $600,000, which still leaves about a million dollar gap in funding. He added LMC is currently working with the district about the possibility of borrowing this amount from its reserves, so the college won’t face staff or service cuts in the spring.

However, in the academic year of 2013-2014 LMC would have to make these kind of cuts if the state does not allocate new monies to the community college system.

If voters do decide to pass Prop. 30 and also approve Measure A then LMC will actually gain money allowing it to grow. However, if only Prop. 30 passes the college will stay essentially the same in the number of course offerings and services available.

If Measure A passes, but Prop. 30 does not then the former will help to absorb some of the fiscal hits LMC would otherwise feel.

Kratochvil said if Measure A passes the district will receive around $4 million approximately a million of which will go to LMC. However, he explained it is not a direct transfer of money because only certain things will be able to be funded by the funds generated by the measure will have to be allocated in a way that will offset as much of the potential budget short fall as possible.

Debora van Eckhardt the student trustee for the CCCCD Governing Board has rallied to gain supporters for both ballot measures and to raise awareness of what she sees as a crucial time for student voters to stand up for their own interests on Election Day.

“Students need to see that they actually count … they have a say in their future,” said Eckhardt. “If they don’t vote they are giving others power over their choice. Its their time to get involved in the world and the affect it has on us.”

Krotchvil has been keeping tabs on poll projections for Prop. 30 and sees Nov. 6 as a day where student voters could make up a portion of the crucial swing voter block. “However students decide to cast their vote is up them, but it is extremely important that they vote because — if things are as close as they seem — every vote will matter.”

For more information on these and other issues to be decided on Election Day see the related news stories and editorial content in this edition of the LMC Experience.