New funding formula may prove disastrous for LBCC future

Story and Photo by Steven Matthews

Long Beach City College has a new state funding formula that could have devastating effects on the school in the future.

The funding formula is unlikely to affect currently enrolled students, however, it will affect students in the future but it’s too early to determine what those effects will be.

Governor Brown signed a new funding formula into law in May that changes the way the state gives funding to the 100+ community colleges within its borders.

Originally, the formula gave a base allocation of funds based on full time enrolled students while the new formula will contain three factors for fund determination: amount of full time students, amount of low income students and student success.

According to a statement put out by the California Department of Education, “The Budget proposes a new funding formula for general purpose apportionment that encourages access for underrepresented students, provides additional funding in recognition of the need to provide additional support for low-income students, and rewards colleges’ progress on improving student success metrics.”

This in turn changes the goal for LBCC  from ensuring a high enrollment count to ensuring high graduation numbers.

Superintendent-President Reagan Romali seems to be well suited for the task.

Romali formerly served as President of Harry S Truman College, one of the city colleges in Chicago where she saw a three times increase in graduation rates during her tenure there.

“My plan is to do the same thing here,” Romali said in an interview. “Find ways to help students complete faster and there’s a plethora of ways to make that happen.”

“There could be core-requisites offered, there could be tutoring support offered, a redesign of the registration system to make it easier and faster, or there could be online courses, weekend courses.”

Romali continued, “So there’s a variety of things that we could do to make it easier for you and the way we figure out what those things are is we look to best practices across the nation.”

“What are other people doing that is successful, that has a proven track record; what are the ideas of the students, what do you tell us we can do better at?

“What the faculty, staff and administrators, what ideas they have?”

Romali also acknowledged that even though these are all strong ideas, that implementation is a different story.

“Ideas are wonderful, and execution is priceless. It’s up to us to make sure that we really execute those for the students, so that we’re continuing to up our game every year, to get better and better.”

“So do I think we can make it? Yeah, absolutely. I have complete faith in the students and employees of the college, so yeah, we’ll make it. Absolutely.”

The LBCC vice president of student services, Marlene Dunn, also remains optimistic for the funding change.

“We are very well situated to handle the change.” Dunn said during an interview.

The Chancellor’s office for California community colleges ran budget simulations for the new formula based on this year’s tentative budget and they determined they would result in a $10 million loss in school revenue, if it were implemented today.

This information is enough to give any administrator a round of fits, however, luckily enough for our school  the state has implemented a “hold harmless” provision for just that scenario.

In this case, the hold harmless clause will hold the state funding for LBCC to the level it is now for three years while the school transitions to the new formula.

Romali also weighed in on the hold harmless provision, “There’s a three year hold harmless that we lobbied, very strongly for, up and down the state, with some other college CEOs and we were successful in getting that three year hold harmless, which is effectively a three year phase in.”

Even though the school will receive the hold harmless provision the three year phase in is designed to get the school’s up to speed on how the budget will be dispersed.

For the school year 2018-2019 70% of the funding will be the base allocation, 20% will be supplemental funding for low income or disadvantaged student count  and the final 10% will be based on student success.

For 2019 – 2020 the amounts will change to a 65% base, 20% supplemental and 15% based on student success and the final transitional year will put the allocations where they are supposed to be with 60% base, 20% supplemental and 20% based on student success.

“Moving forward, this is how we need to start looking at the budget.” said Stacy Toda of LBCC public relations.

Every district will be expected to adopt goals that are aligned with the vision of the new formula by January 1, 2019 and there are plans to create a 15 member Funding Formula Oversight Committee to evaluate and review the implementation of the new formula and goals.