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South Puget Sound CC suddenly cuts 180 classes

The following news release was distributed Tuesday by AFT Washington:

The administration at South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC) is slashing 180 course *sections from its AA transfer program. Sections that will be eliminated are in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences – all required for a successful transfer into a four-year university. Registration for summer and fall quarter began Monday, May 23, and faculty and staff were warned that students are going to be upset as they are informed the courses they need are not available.

“These cuts will prevent new and existing students from completing their AA degree within a reasonable time when a demand for classes has increased, enrollment is up, and students are paying double-digit tuition increases,” said AFT Washington President Sandra Schroeder. The Legislature approved tuition increases of 7 percent per year for 2009-2011 and 12 percent per year for 2011-2013 – a total of 38% in the last two biennia.

Fewer classes will be available and students will be put on long waiting lists with no guarantee they will get the classes required to transfer to four-year universities. Students have already started applying at other community colleges to get the classes they need.

“We understand that the colleges are faced with budget cuts,” said Schroeder, “but this decision impacts students harshly at a time when the Legislature is also pushing for quicker completion rates.”

Sarrah Conner, a first-year student at SPSCC, tried to register for two classes she needed for her transfer degree. “They scheduled a registration time for me during the time I was at work. When I got off work an hour-and-a-half later, the classes were not available and I was put on a waiting list.” Consequently, Conner registered at Centralia College about 30 minutes away and had no problem getting into the classes.

The cuts in class sections will also impact part-time faculty who are the lowest paid. But the college president and board of trustees are not proposing any cuts to administration. In fact, they replaced the Dean of Information Technology with a Chief Information Officer and increased the annual salary from $79,000 to $98,000.

South Puget Sound Community College has two campuses – in Olympia and at Hawks Prairie Center in Lacey – and 6,803 students attend according to the college. SPSCC is the only public community college  in the area for Thurston County residents.

AFT Washington represents education employees in two- and four-year community and technical colleges and universities, K-12 school-related personnel, Head Start, and early childhood educators.

For more information, contact AFT Washington’s Sylvia Watson at 206-432-8084.

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