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Palo Verde Valley Blythe/Quartzsite Times | Blythe, California and Quartzsite, Arizona

home : latest news : latest news December 17, 2014

2/21/2013 5:00:00 PM
Palo Verde College faces enrollment shortage

Jaclyn Randall
Associate Editor

BLYTHE - On the heels of receiving news that the Palo Verde Community College District (PVCCD) was no longer considered on probation status from the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC), the college now has to overcome a shortage in enrollment or lose up to $1.8 million for next year.

To help balance the 2011-2012 budget, the college offered early retirement packages to employees, cut back on energy use, and offered fewer courses in the Fall and Spring, all to make up the deficit. But it was the latter that is having a domino effect on campus.

When the college decided to balance the budget by not offering as many classes and cut down on the expenses that are incurred by having classes, the enrollment decreased. The enrollment also suffered due to an increase in student fees from $36 per unit in 2011-'12, to $46 per unit beginning in the summer of last year.

When the college decided to make the necessary cuts in 2011 to balance the budget, the college acted under a state assembly bill that allows a college to receive funding at base level for one year before a college's budget is affected.

The bill, AB 1266, which deals with stabilization funding, was modified in 2003 giving a community college one year to rebuild their enrollment back up to the levels that they were before levels dropped below base without the loss negatively impacting that year's budget.

The immediate year following an academic year with enrollment levels lower than the base target is considered a grace period. Thereafter, a college has to either make up the enrollment losses or reduce their budgets to mee the lower levels.

PVCCD fell below the base target for the 2011-'12 year and is now in the grace period. With PVCCD currently operating still below the base enrollment target, the California Community College Chancellor's Office will enact a reduction in funding to match what the Chancellor's office deems is the actual enrollment at Palo Verde College.

"We were overjoyed to hear that the Accreditation Commission took us off probation, only to have to face another financial challenge," said PVC interim-President Denise Whittaker. "We have just completed a data review to project our enrollment targets and it appears that it is unlikely that we'll reach the required base enrollment that the state requires for us to receive full apportionment in the current year or for next year."

While enrollment has decreased and the financial impact is staggering, Whittaker will also meet with consultants and experts to assess the college's options.

She is also currently scheduling meetings with employees and unions to inform them of the situation.

Palo Verde College is not the only community college suffering from decisions by the state to not invest in higher education over the past several years. According to California Community Colleges (CCC), 70 percent of colleges that answered a survey in 2012 admitted to reductions in their enrollment and course sections after the state made major cuts beginning in the 2008-'09 fiscal year.

Since then enrollment fees at community colleges have been raised 130 percent, which is also a reason that enrollment has gone down. The college district has also seen a drop in Arizona students enrollment. Prior to the state raising credit fees, it was beneficial for Arizona students to attend Palo Verde College because of the college's agreement with Arizona Western College, that allowed Arizona students to pay in-state fees to attend PVC.

"With the fees being raised to $46 a credit, this is no longer the case and fewer Arizona students are attending PVC," said Whittaker.

PVC also believes it took a loss in enrollment due to the incorrect perception that the "probation" status meant that their college credits would no longer transfer.

"PVC never lost its accreditation and even during its probabationary period, all courses were downturn in enrollment for the college," said Whittaker.

Funding for the District and other California community colleges is based on Full Time (Student) Equivalent or FTE. Thirty credits/units equals one FTE. The college receives $4,574.83 for each FTE. PVCCD's FTES base target is 1811 to receive full funding. PVC anticipates a final FTES for the current year to be 1500-1600, which will significantly reduce the budget

In the meantime, Palo Verde College has been offering mid-semester courses for those who wish to attend. Beginning in March, courses in Systems Analysis and Design, Reading and Composition, American History, Musical Theatre, Musical Production, and Philosophy. For a full list of credit and non-credit classes visit www.paloverde.edu or stop by the John O. Crain Building on the main campus at One College Drive.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, February 25, 2013
Article comment by: Mel SoCal

i was told i could not enroll in SEVERAL pvvc classes, every year, because inmates were enrolled and the class was full..

i might have stayed, if they would have let me ATTEND.

Posted: Sunday, February 24, 2013
Article comment by: Kathy Linares

I attended Palo Verde College fulltime for two semesters and thouroughly enjoyed the learning experience and felt that the teachers were very competent and caring. With only one semester left to graduate with an AA in Business, all of the classes I need are online. I purchased all of my books from the Palo Verde College bookstore and paid for every unit without aid. I am not going to pay an extra $10/unit to teach myself! Classes are made interesting by teachers who have a passion for the subject and also by fellow students through their participation in the class. It is very dull and boring to try and muddle one's way through a text book for a subject we may know nothing about. Instead of Arrange after each subject, I would like to see a teacher's name. Our college is truly something for the community to take pride in. Thank you.

Posted: Friday, February 22, 2013
Article comment by: Luis Uribe

Part of the reason I would say is also the lack of professional attitude shown by some instructors. For example my wife was in the nursing program did everything that she had to do and at the last moment she was failed by the instructor that signd her mid progress report that said she was passing. For what reason was this done we don't know. Now my wife is afraid to say any thing due to the instructor retaliating against her. Two years down the drain all the money we spent on her program also down the drain. All to be told this at the last minute without any explanation. I on the other hand have had really good instructors that have helped me in my education. I have heard other cases of students with bad experiences and this puts fear in them and discourages them. That nees to change our college has lots of potential.

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