When new students registered in August at Yuba College’s Marysville campus, the bulletin board announcing cancelled classes was lost in a sea of white 3×5 index cards, each with “closed class” written in bold ink.
“I was upset when I found out there were no more available English classes,” said Peggy Vang who started her first semester at the Marysville campus this fall. “I plan on majoring in English.”
Originally wanting to attend college full time, she was also unable to register for the history class she wanted, reducing her schedule to part time.
In a bid to improve state funding, Yuba College has pushed to increase enrollment. Funding from the state is determined by calculating a college’s FTES, or Full Time Equivalent Student, enrollment. One FTES point equals 525 class hours of student activity in credit or non-credit courses, roughly 12 units.
FTES is calculated for a college by adding together the total amount of units from all students and dividing that number by twelve. Yuba College’s numbers come from all campuses, outreach courses, TV and online classes for the fall, spring and summer sessions. Last year, student enrollment and the college’s FTES were down.
Unfortunately, low FTES tends to mean fewer courses offered which means fewer students will enroll, or as in the case of Vang, students take fewer units, lowering the FTES even more. It is a vicious cycle.
Yuba College has this academic year to make up the numbers without compromising its funding. Last year falls under what is termed “a year of forgiveness,” but if the college does not bring FTES totals up, the amount of state funding will drop. The college’s FTES goal for this year is 7,769.
The college hopes to meet its goal by the end of spring. If it does not, the summer sessions may be added to either the previous or following academic year. This past summer session, which earned us 561 FTES, will be used for the 2004/05 academic year, and if necessary, next summer will be as well.
Dr. Alan Lowe, the Vice President of Instruction for the district, hopes adding next summer session won’t be necessary. “Five hundred and sixty one is the FTES we generated during summer. We’re using that as our base for 2004/05. If we can make 3,589 in each of the two semesters, plus the 30 flex, that gives us 7,769.”
Since the FTES for this semester is only 3,457– 132 behind what is needed to reach the year’s minimum figure — it appears that adding next summer may be necessary, and the college will not be able to use that figure as the base for next year’s state funding.
As of census data gathered on September 10, enrollment district-wide was up 8.16 percent from last fall, which bodes well for the college and FTES goals. However, the class sections offered increased by only 2.7 percent district-wide from last fall. The Marysville campus fared somewhat better with a 5.4 percent enrollment increase and a 4.2 percent section increase before cancellations. While chances to improve FTES have gone up, class availability has lagged.
However, FTES is not the only thing that has affected class availability this year. According to Lowe, although our funding was enough, “We do have a problem with room availability, especially during the times when students want to take classes.”
The other problem, according to Lowe, is that the Marysville campus has difficulty in getting part-time math, English and ESL instructors who have to drive from Sacramento, a drive they are unwilling to make to teach only part time.
“What we’ve found,” said Lowe, “as one of our deans said: if I had the instructors, I would have offered more classes. We have the ability to offer more classes this spring. We’re willing to spend the money because we have to get the FTES.”
In an effort to boost FTES for this semester, late start classes will be offered.”We have some late start classes scheduled,” said Lowe, “and we’re going to do additional marketing on those to pump up enrollments.”
Those classes will start mid-semester.