City College of San Francisco (CCSF) received a “show cause” order from the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and must begin making preparations for closure. The order came after a comprehensive review by the accrediting agency’s evaluation team, undertaken in March, found that the school had not fully acted upon recommendations from a 2006 visit by the evaluation team.
At the time of the previous visit, the evaluation team identified eight issues placing CCSF’s accreditation in jeopardy. There are currently 14 major problems, all of which must be addressed by a March 15, 2013 deadline if the college is to remain accredited.
One of the main concerns noted in the evaluation team’s 66-page report was CCSF’s financial solvency. In a letter to CCSF’s interim chancellor Pamila Fisher, commission president Barbara Beno states that CCSF’s inability to react to reductions in public education spending, coupled with the school using 92% of its budget on salaries and benefits, has brought the college to “a financial breaking point.”
Beno described how the institution “relies solely on grants and contracts to provide resources for what should be basic operational expenses” and states that the commission “found little evidence” that CCSF had an integrated financial assessment and budgetary process.
The evaluation report also noted that CCSF suffered “leadership weakness at all levels,” and that faculty and staff exhibited “indirect resistance to board and administrative decision making authority.” Beno noted that a lack of administrative oversight—CCSF serves over 90,000 students, employs approximately 2,700 people but has only 39 administrators—and a predilection for a campus-based governance model has left CCSF unable to adapt to the changing fiscal environment.
The commission noted that not only does CCSF have a long-standing habit of delivering audits late; but that the school has been operating in a deficit budget for three consecutive years—and the budget is continuing to grow. Currently the school does not maintain and document a funding base and does not have plans for financial development adequate to support meet the institution’s needs.
If accreditation is pulled, CCSF will be unable to receive federal student-aid dollars or state funds. The loss of such large revenue streams would force the college to shut its doors. The commission is scheduled to vote on CCSF’s accreditation at its June meeting.
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