Community college district finalizes programs for chopping block

Auto tech program spared at Oxnard college

By David Michael Courtland 12/29/2011

After more than two months of protesting by students, teachers and members of the community at faculty and college district meetings, Oxnard College President Richard Duran says he won’t recommend killing the school’s auto body and auto technology programs. But television production, whose students have dutifully filmed the meetings even as they frequently joined speakers to ask for the program to be spared, is still on the chopping block, along with accounting, computer information systems, ceramics and music.


Duran and presidents of Moorpark and Ventura colleges will present their recommendations on programs to cut at the Jan. 10 Ventura County Community College District Board of Trustees meeting; trustees will make a final decision at the Jan. 17 meeting.


VCCCD Chancellor James Meznek asked for lists of programs to discontinue because the district faces an $11 million shortfall in the 2012-13 fiscal year; Oxnard’s share of those cuts is $2.3 million. But both figures may well grow as the state considers further possible budget cuts of its own.


Students, their families and prominent community leaders, such as former Oxnard Mayor Manuel Lopez and former county Supervisor John Flynn, continued to protest those cuts at a raucous standing-room-only Dec. 13 Board of Trustees meeting.


Other speakers attended the meeting to vent their anger and frustration at a Ventura County Star article. Several accused Meznek of leaking a memo critical of Trustee Art Hernandez to sabotage his chances of becoming board chairman for the next year.


Later in the meeting, the board unanimously re-elected Steve Blum chairman and Hernandez vice chairman, both for a second year.


Several speakers echoed the recommendation of Oxnard College’s Planning and Budget Committee. Originally asked by Duran to help him decide which programs to discontinue, on Nov. 16 the committee instead voted 9-6 to recommend dropping none of them and instead to use reserve “rainy day” funds to make up the difference that would save programs.


In addition to Oxnard’s television program, several students, parents and coaches pleaded with the board to spare Moorpark College’s hugely popular baseball program, which supporters noted has racked up a phenomenal record of sending 60 percent of its graduates on to four-year colleges.


The final list of programs the board will consider suspending includes:


Moorpark: baseball, men’s cross country and track, and emergency medical technician training.


Ventura: architecture, journalism, home economics and interior design programs.


Oxnard: accounting, computer information systems, TV production, ceramics and music.

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