Cuesta College’s expanded summer session — which attracted one of the largest student turnouts in years — was not enough to qualify the college for $1.1 million in additional state funds this year, Superintendent/President Gil Stork announced.

“This does not dramatically impact our budget this fiscal year,” Stork said. “Our plan was to use the contingency money to help soften the impact if Gov. Brown’s November tax measure fails to pass. If voters reject Proposition 30, Cuesta will have to absorb a $2.8 million budget cut in January. The impact on our students will be devastating.”

School officials determined that a modest enrollment increase during summer could qualify the college for midlevel status and make it eligible for additional funding through 2014. These $1.1 million payments help cover expanded services needed to serve a larger student population.

Although the school’s Summer Starts promotional campaign — that included donated newspaper, TV and radio ads — achieved its enrollment goal, the target for the entire year fell short by approximately 80 full-time equivalent students. FTES is different from actual student headcounts, he said.

Several factors led to the shortfall, Stork said. There were a large number of drops by summer students, which campus officials are still evaluating. In addition, the college had to adjust its FTES count projections for the 2011-12 academic year.

Cuesta is considered a small college; state funding is based on a cap of 8,629 FTES. The funded cap translates to a headcount of approximately 11,000 students.

Stork said the college needed 9,236 FTES in the school year ending June 30 to again be named a midlevel college. Cuesta had achieved that status in 2008 but dropped in size.

Three years of back-to-back cuts from the state have resulted in fewer classes, a cut in support services, some layoffs, and classified and management staff reorganizations, officials said.

State reductions also lowered the funded FTES at Cuesta, as well as the threshold needed for midsize college status. Officials originally planned to seek midlevel status in 2012/13, but because the target was within reach they tried for the 2011/12 school year, knowing that this fiscal year would provide another opportunity.

While the result is disappointing, Stork said the college still plans to apply most of this summer’s nearly 650 FTES toward achieving midsize status this fiscal year. Summer classes can be applied to either the past fiscal year or used for the current one.

“I’ve been at Cuesta College since 1967,” said Stork, a former mathematics instructor. “These are among the most challenging fiscal times the college has experienced. We will continue to use every manner possible to fulfill our mission of meeting the educational needs of our students.”


Released July 19, 2012