LANCASTER — Antelope Valley Community College District will see about $13.4 million in deferrals this fiscal year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Part of that money comes from the college’s general fund, part of it comes from categorical or restricted revenue.
The District will get $74 million instead of $82 million for its general fund budget based on state calculations. Categorical programs funds have already stopped coming in.
“We will stop receiving checks from the state in February,” AV College Ed Knudson said.
The deferrals will continue through June. According to a proposed repayment schedule, AV College will get the $13.4 million back in five $2.6 million payments beginning in July if the state has the money. The money AV College is receiving now is based on tax receipts from 2019. Next year’s money will be based on tax receipts from the current, COVID-19 calendar year.
“This is a cash-flow issue based on deferrals,” Knudson said.
In 2018-19 California introduced the Student Centered Funding Formula as the primary mechanism for funding community colleges with the goal to improve student success. When the formula first started, the state’s calculation ended in a deficit for the college. After a recalculation the state ended up paying AV College back about $6 million. That money will help the college get through this current year.
Going in to the 2020-21 fiscal year, the college deliberately budgeted a 10% reduction. They will budget another 5% reduction for the 2021-22 and 2022-23 fiscal years. Budgets goes through a budget committee comprised of all employee groups.
“We always budget very conservatively,” Knudson said.
The state extended a “hold harmless” rule through the 2023-24 fiscal year. Community college districts will be paid based on the 2019-20 total computational revenue rather than the current fiscal year.
“We want people to understand that it’s serious but we don’t want people to panic,” Knudson said.
Due to the ongoing pandemic the college’s travel budget is gone. Administrators are looking at dues and memberships and consulting services to see what else can be reduced. There is also a pseudo-hiring freeze with no new positions added. The District is only hiring replacements for critical positions such as nursing faculty should someone retire.
“There are some employees that may be impacted that it isn’t negotiable. They’re not here anyway we don’t have any work for them,” Knudson said.
Adjunct instructors may be impacted depending on what they teach due to reduced sections offered. Some student workers may also be impacted.
Knudson said there is a premium to ensure the Information Technology Department is fully staff due to the need to support remote learning.
Enrollment is down statewide and nationwide at two-year colleges.
“Part of the feedback we’re getting from students is they don’t like distance learning but also they’re going to take some time to see how long this is going to last.
But that has its own set of problems is they stay out too long, Knudson said.
AV College’s student headcount is down a little more than 2,000 students, or about 11%. That number is equal to about 570 full-time equivalent students, which is down about 13%. Those numbers are similar to other community colleges. The current headcount is about 12,000 students.
AV College will continue with remote learning for the spring semester. That is consistent with what other colleges are doing statewide.
“It’s distressing to me to do that,” Knudson said.
He added they also need to be good partners with local districts such as Antelope Valley Union High School District.
Students in critical or essential workforce areas such as transportation, national security or first responders are on campus. They wear full personal protective equipment all of the time because of the nature of their courses.
The District will use CARES Act money to transform classrooms into smart classrooms to help facilitate synchronous or asynchronous learning for students who cannot be on campus.
“The danger is the longer a student stays out the less likely they are to come back,” Knudson said.
The college also distributed about $5 million in direct payments to students. Another payment to students is forthcoming this fall.
Knudson looks forward to students returning.
“I miss the energy. I want them back,” Knudson said.