By Sara Bloomberg
With the deadline for City College of San Francisco to lose its accreditation less than 10 months out, city officials are questioning its economic impact on the city.
The answer appears to be at least $311 million.
At a Budget and Finance Committee hearing on Wednesday, Supervisor Eric Mar called an evaluation he had requested on the college's economic impact "groundbreaking."
“I think this report is groundbreaking because it quantifies a huge economic impact to the city and county of San Francisco and so many families and people of San Francisco, young and old, that have improved their lives” by taking classes there, Mar said. CCSF is the largest community college in the state, with 80,000 students enrolled in the 2012-2013 academic year.
Severin Campbell, a representative of the city's Budget and Legislative Analyst office, presented the findings of the report, which breaks down the economic impact into two main categories: grant funding and jobs.
The school received $188 million in state and federal grants in the 2011-12 fiscal year, and the market value of the jobs attained by City College graduates during the same period was $123 million, according to the report.
Additionally, more than 2,400 faculty, administrative and classified jobs would be lost if the school were to close, Campbell said. She added that some of the classified workers would be eligible to work for the city, but faculty positions at other educational institutions in the Bay Area would be harder to find.
But even these numbers don't account for the fallout that the accreditation process has had on the school, in addition to several years of state-level budget cuts, said Alisa Messer, president of the faculty union AFT Local 2121.
“The report doesn't fully capture what has happened in the last year or so since the accreditation challenges really came to the forefront. There are at least 150 less faculty at City College of San Francisco compared to [last] fall.”
The analyst's office also determined that students would incur higher costs if forced to transfer to a private, for-profit two-year program elsewhere. Many similar programs at other Bay Area community colleges are full.
Additionally, City College graduates get better paying jobs and earn about $11,000 more annually than those with only a high school diploma, and non-English speakers make about $13,500 less per year than other workers who speak English well, according to the report. Students in non-credit classes, including English as a Second Language courses, make up about half of all enrollment at the college.
In addition to job training and preparing to transfer to a four-year university, many San Franciscans take classes to pick up an extra skill.
“I went back [to school at City College] to learn the languages that my students spoke,” retired high school teacher Hene Kelly said, “so I could be a better teacher.”
For others, the school provides a way to overcome poverty and other disadvantaged situations, Supervisor Mar said.
“City College is part of the city's economic ladder that allows some level of mobility” for people who are locked into poverty, he said. “To lose City College would be like kicking the ladder out from under the most vulnerable populations.”