Editor’s Note: This article has been updated since its original posting.Â
The Board of Trustees approved a new off-campus site in Rosemead so that it can offer more classes to meet state requirements to receive funding.
The new satellite facility, which costs $325,000 per year to operate, will begin offering classes in October, according to the Board report.
The large investment for the college, however, was not put into light until Trustee Jeanette Mann pointed out that the item was buried deep in the 187-page Board report packet as a consent item on page 72. Generally, the board approves all consent items with one vote.
Mann was concerned the satellite college would get approved without much discussion.
â€œThis isnâ€™t four chairs in a basement, this is a big commitment,â€ Mann said.
According to Robert Miller, senior vice president of business and college services, the satellite would provide more access to students, with an expected 100 additional class sections beginning Oct. 21.
â€œYou will get 15 classroom facilities, administrative offices, computer lab opportunities, and we will be able to offer a full compliment of courses in that part of the community,â€ Miller said.
Trustee Baum was skeptical the college would recommend opening a new satellite in a short period of time, especially for $325,000.
â€œYou are asking us to put away $325,000,â€ Baum said. â€œCanâ€™t we manage our schedule on the campus more effectively to expand the inventory on instructional space? Are we maximizing our current resources?â€
Superintendent and President Mark Rocha explained that budget cuts in recent years and scheduling issues are making it more difficult for the college to meet its Full Time Equivalent Student (FTES) quota mandated by the California Community Colleges Chancellorâ€™s office. The Chancellorâ€™s office told the college on Aug. 6 that it must meet an 18.4 percent in FTES this year.
â€œWe are running less efficiently because class sizes have reduced and made smaller causing us to run more sections,â€ Rocha said. â€œWe have a block scheduling problem which we are fixing and we could fix if we use Rosemead .â€
Dean of Counseling Cynthia Olivo explained in an interview that the Rosemead site will allow for more student access that cannot be provided on the main campus.
“[The main campus is] at 97 percent capacity right now, the satellite will allow us to provide much more access,” she said.
Student Trustee Simon Fraser was concerned approving the new satellite on short notice would not give the public enough time to discuss the issue in more depth.
â€œIâ€™m concerned about doing this. I do think we need to have more public contemplation. I donâ€™t know what I think about it,â€ Fraser said. â€œI donâ€™t think weâ€™ve had a full discussion.â€
Miller explained that without the possible FTES gains, the college may not meet its goal, which would give the college state funding.
â€œWe need to know this tonight whether this is a go or a no go,â€ he said.
Board President John Martin agreed that because FTES requirements are a high priority for the collegeâ€™s well-being, it would be wise to vote on the satellite at that meeting.
â€œIâ€™m shocked that it was ready to come up now. But there were real good reasons that we need to step this up now,â€ Martin said. â€œWe were on a nice slow even trajectory [for FTES goals] but the dynamics have changed.â€
Olivo said it is better for the college to gain new satellite college on short notice to provide courses than to not have enough students, which may force the college to cut classes.
“It’s best to be in this situation than the alternative where we don’t have enough students [to meet FTES],” she said. “Since the passing of Proposition 30, we have much more money for student access.”
Trustee Berlinda Brown supported the satellite since it would broaden the college districtâ€™s outreach to the community.
â€œI am definitely in support of this because it improves access for a lot of students,â€ Brown said. â€œI hope we can recapture [FTES] by broadening our institution.â€