From Renters Write, March 2011

Santa Monica College

Managing Change, Maintaining Priorities

As members of the SMC Board of Trustees, we are proud to report that SMC continues its legacy as a premier community college. For the 20th year, SMC is once again tops in the numbers of students who transfer to a University of California campus, with over 1,000 students transferring in 09/10. We also transferred the most Latino students and the most African American students to UCs, had the highest transfer numbers to the combined UC and CSU systems, and were number one in transfers to USC and Loyola Marymount.

Building upon our reputation for excellence in transfer, we are strengthening and expanding our career technical educations programs.  We recently were awarded a federal grant for almost $5 million to work with partner institutions to create curriculum, training, and certificates in the emerging green technology fields of recycling and resource management. “Jobs Through Recycling” will train and certify 660 students and place more than 400 highly skilled professionals in rewarding green jobs with upward mobility.  Assistant Secretary of Labor Jane Oates came to SMC to launch this program and applauded our efforts and record as environmental leaders in community college education.

Campus sustainability is also an SMC institutional priority. We just received energy reduction incentive rebate checks totaling more than $200,000. These rebates are the result of a facilities project that retrofitted the control system for 54 fume hoods in the Science Building. It’s estimated the retrofitting will pay for itself in utility cost savings in about 1 1/2 years, and will save SMC $1.5 million over the next 10 years.

At our February meeting, the Board of Trustees received more good news: another “unqualified” report from our auditors. Unqualified is the highest rating possible and attests to the diligence, scrutiny, and professionalism of our fiscal services department, facilities, and overall operations.

We are proud of these accomplishments (and others!) and committed to Santa Monica College and to our community. We are, however, also chastened and challenged by the severe funding cuts that Santa Monica College and other community colleges are experiencing and anticipating from the State budget crisis. SMC presently has a $5 million operating deficit. That deficit will double if Governor Brown’s budget proposals pass and triple if his proposal to renew tax extensions in a special June election fails. Nevertheless, through grants, admission of out-of-state and international students, frugality, good management, and oversight by a SMRR endorsed Board of Trustees, SMC will continue to provide local students, all our students, and the community with the highest quality education and facilities.