Solano College cuts football, aquatics programs

Solano College cuts football, aquatics programs
March 7, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Another local college is being forced to cut programs and end classes. Thursday night, Solano Community College cut its successful football and aquatics programs.

Often times, the first to suffer from cuts in education funding are the smaller city and community colleges. A room full of former and current students fought to explain the importance of the athletics program.

"I don't feel like I'm being treated very well here. Somebody told me on Wednesday that there was no layoffs. Don't worry about your job," said Scott Parrish, a swim coach.

Former and current football players explained how the two-time conference champion team offered them a chance that many local kids can't get elsewhere. It helped Mike Gibson, of Napa, who's now an offensive lineman in the NFL.

"For me, coming from a family that wasn't wealthy, couldn't pay for college, and because I didn't do too well academically, I was able to come to Solano, graduated in two years, ended up going to UC Berkeley and then got drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles," said Mike Gibson, a former football player.

"I am a former football player of Solano Community College. If it were not for Solano Community College's football program, I would not be a professor of sociology currently at Solano Community College," said Tonmar Johnson, a faculty member.

The decision to cut the entire academic summer session is also part of the plan to fill a $4.8 million budget deficit. Military veterans who attend college through the Veterans Administration can only receive aid checks when they're enrolled in classes. They need the summer session.

"If I don't go to class, I can't house and feed my children. We veterans served you, now you serve us," said a military veteran.

Also on the cutting board is the childcare center that serves faculty and students. There's also talk eliminating the campus police department and replacing it with a private security company.

So the final decision was to cut the football and aquatics programs on Wednesday night. The decision to cut the summer academic session, along with other services, will be next and many at the school think that's just the tip of the iceberg.

In the meantime, for the summer school, more than 300 students signed a petition saying it must be saved. It is a last-ditch effort by students to save summer school.

However, Solano's administration and trustees claim cutting summer school is just one of several drastic moves they have to make to offset an unexpected shortfall in state funding. "Ultimately, we have about a $4.8 million problem that we have to solve. It keeps growing it seems, each month and thus, we're going to make some hard decisions to make up for that amount of money," says Solano college spokesperson Peter Bostic.

The cuts to summer school would save about $1 million.

"Cutting our sports and stuff isn't the way to go," said Malik Joseph. He is a wide receiver for the Falcons, a team that has won two straight conference championships. "They're not just going to stop here with the budget cuts for this sport. They're going to keep cutting everything."

Community college students in Northern California and throughout the state are being hit on all sides. Not only are their programs and classes being cut, their fees are likely to go up.

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