One-time federal funds to increase CSU classes

Kristine Guerra

California State University Chancellor Charles B. Reed announced Thursday the allocation of the remaining $50.9 million in one-time federal stimulus funds for campuses to add courses for fall 2010.

Systemwide, the funds will add more than 8,000 courses next semester. Campuses can also use the funds to retain and/or rehire lecturers for fall 2010, said CSU spokesman Erik Fallis.

“Hopefully, this will help to alleviate some of the shortages in classes, and students will be able to make faster progress toward their degree,” Reed said in a CSU press release.

In fall 2009, the CSU received $76.5 million in one-time federal stimulus funds, of which $25.6 million had been allocated to add courses for the winter and spring 2010 semesters. The chancellor’s office withheld the remaining $50.9 million to wait for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 2010-11 budget proposal. According to a press release issued in October, the chancellor withheld the remaining funds because of the uncertainty in the state’s fiscal condition.

Sacramento State’s share of the remaining stimulus funds is $3.1 million, according to a memo from the chancellor’s office.

“The funding is being allocated in proportion to the one-time state support reduction each campus sustained this year (2009-10),” Fallis said.

Sac State President Alexander Gonzalez said the one-time federal funds would help the university add classes for fall 2010.

The stimulus funds allotted for Sac State would add nearly 500 classes for fall 2010, according to a memo from the chancellor’s office.

“This allocation comes at an ideal time, as the CSU and Sacramento State are eagerly hoping for a state budget that restores crucial funding for higher education,” Gonzalez said in a written statement to the State Hornet.

Kimberly Nava, interim director of news services, said it’s too early to predict how the administration will manage the stimulus funds.

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Joseph Sheley agreed, adding that the university will focus on making sure graduating seniors will get the classes they need to graduate.

Kevin Wehr, president of the Sac State chapter of the California Faculty Association, said he is hoping the university would prioritize rehiring some of the hundreds of lecturers who have lost their jobs within the last two years.According to data provided by the chancellor’s office to CFA, 185 part-time professors in fall 2008 were not reappointed to come back in fall 2009. This number includes retirements and voluntary resignations.

“The CFA is going to pay very careful attention to make sure that the administration spends this money in the wisest way possible,” Wehr said.

Wehr said faculty members from across the state had sent messages to Reed, urging him to release the remaining stimulus funds.

Nicholas Burnett, chair of the communication studies department, said that what the stimulus funds would do is minimize the effects of the budget cuts for academic year 2010-11.

“The president is projecting that things could be so bad that the cut could be as high as 18 percent (for academic year 2010-11), and that would translate into a very large cut probably on part-time teaching,” Burnett said. “It provides a cushion to that blow, but it doesn’t wipe out everything.”

Fallis said although the stimulus funds would help add classes for fall 2010, funding beyond fall 2010 is still dependent on state support.

“We’re still going to need the state of California to invest in higher education,” Fallis said. “We have no reason to believe that we’ll have that one-time money available in the future.”

Kristine Guerra can be reached at [email protected].