City College has 100 days to fix major problems

July 10, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
One hundred days -- that's how much time City College of San Francisco has to begin fixing major financial mismanagement. The alternative could be an end to the school. Tuesday night the board of trustees told a packed house it is working to keep City College alive.

One hundred days is the first of two deadlines. Officials said it is unlikely that City College would close, but the interim chancellor said that City College, the largest college in the state, is in trouble.

The collage is at risk of losing its accreditation, its state funding, and possibly closing if the board doesn't fix some serious problems fast.

"What have you all been really doing? Because looking where we are at now in this situation, we should not be in this situation, first of all. Second of all, you guys are talking about all these words and beautiful things that you say, but actions speak louder than words," said Oscar Pena, a City College student.

The state accreditation commission says City College has been falling down on the job and that they have problems like leadership weaknesses at every level, failure to react to ongoing reduced funding and spending a higher than average 92 percent of its budget on salaries and benefits. The commission came under fire.

"I would just like to say shame on the accreditation committee. I don't want any more administrators at my school. I want my teachers to be paid better with better benefits," said Stephan Georgiou, student.

About 90,000 students attend City College. While trying to address the problems in the report, the board still has to consider a total shut down of the school.

"The closure plan is designed as a kind of insurance for students that in the very, very worst case scenario, they will be taken care of. They will be allowed to finish programs, they will be allowed to transfer credits," said Pamila Fisher, the interim City College chancellor.

School officials say they already have a task force to address the money problems and how the college is run. They have to show progress by October and prove the issues are fixed by next March.

ABC7 News spoke to John Rizzo, the Board of Trustees president.

Alston: Is there going to be any accountability among the trustees for the predicament you're in?
Rizzo: Sure, we'll take responsibility for it, for sure.
Alston: What does that mean?
Rizzo: The buck stops here. If we fail, it's our fault. We're not going to fail.

Last year the state cut $17 million from City College and it could lose another $11 million if the governor's November tax initiative fails. Trustees voted to placed a $79 parcel tax this fall on the ballot in San Francisco to generate money.


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