Community colleges cutting summer courses

FRESNO, Calif.

Students often use summer school as a way to speed up progress toward a degree or transfer -- or to lighten the load during the regular school year. But budget reductions have forced many community colleges to shift their priorities and cancel classes to preserve more fall and spring programs. And students tell Action News - it's delaying their education.

Friends Jarred Szot and Allison Lowe planned to take three classes this summer so they could quickly transfer from Fresno City College to Fresno State. But those plans may now be on hold because the community college has slashed several of it's summer sessions because of budget cuts.

"I'm on the waitlist for child development," Szot said. "I'm on the waitlist for math and for English 1A."

Lowe added, "If I don't get in this class I'm going to be so stressed out this fall semester."

"They're really important because English 1A is going to be really tough hard for me so getting it done in a short amount of time will be a lot easier than like a full semester."

The two are among thousands of students up and down the state - waitlisted or completely shut out of classes this summer. That's because funding cuts have forced many of California's community colleges to either cancel or severely reduce their course offerings.

Fresno City College spokesperson Kathy Bonilla said, "Two years ago, we had the biggest cut in summer school. We cut our offerings about 50%."

This summer - Fresno City will offer one six-week session beginning June 18th as well as very limited classes in a 10-week session for specialty programs like nursing. That's down from four summer sessions just two years ago.

"We're keeping what we call the bread and butter courses," Bonilla said. "Math and history courses."

In Reedley - a similar scenario. Officials here tell Action News - they planned to cancel summer school altogether, but later decided to offer just one session after students spoke up and the board agreed there wasn't enough time to make the changes.

And for those lucky enough to enroll - they face another challenge. Starting this summer - tuition will go up another $10.00 a unit from $36.00 to $46.00. Making now - a difficult time to be a student.

Lowe said, "It'll push me further and further from my goal because I wanted to get in and get out."

It's not just students who are frustrated. Fresno City tells Action News teachers - especially those who work part time - are also being impacted. Many rely on the income from summer school to get by and are left wondering what employer will hire them for just a couple of months.

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