Cuts to CUNY Budget Get City Council Attention

CUNY officials say that if the Bloomberg Administration follows through with its budget cut plans, community college students will suffer from a domino effect. At a City Council hearing Monday, CUNY officials said cuts to instructional staff will lead to fewer classes, larger class sizes and lower graduation rates. CUNY students also face a five-percent tuition hike.

CUNYs Vice Chancellor for Budget, Finance and Fiscal Policy, Mark Shaw, gave one example of cuts the colleges will have to make. He said at Bronx Community College approximately 100 class sections would be eliminated, decreasing the availability of classes by 2,700 seats and requiring an increase to an average class size from 27 to at least 30 students.

Bronx City Council Member James Vacca asked about the students attending classes this spring.

"I think students should know, because many of them have already registered for next term, that unless the council restores these funds, they may find their sections collapsed or gone," said Vacca.

The CUNY administrators said planners were aware of the possible cuts but that some adjustments would need to be made.

While acknowledging budget cuts are necessary, council members expressed dismay that CUNY's budget will be cut by almost 3 percent more than the Department of Education's budget. But the Bloomberg Administration said the Department of Education and uniformed services will be cut less because of their importance to the city.

Enrollment in CUNY's community colleges has been rising and last week they stopped accepting applications for spring.

Both the President and the Mayor have championed community colleges as a way for Americans to adjust to the evolving job market.