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Residents historically turn to City College in recession, supe turns to voters to fund struggling school

As San Francisco contends with severe economic downturn and soaring unemployment due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Supervisor Gordon Mar said it is more important than ever to fund the struggling City College of San Francisco.

The supervisor said:

“The Workforce Economic and Recovery Fund will ensure that nearly 100,000 unemployed San Franciscans can upgrade their skills and get back to work as soon as possible.”

During an online press conference held Monday, Mar announced plans to introduce a charter amendment for the November 2020 election that would help fund the cash-strapped CCSF.

Mar said the legislation would establish a Workforce Education and Recovery Fund where The City would allocate $20 million annually from the general fund beginning in the 2020-2021 fiscal year and increase by $2 million annually over the next five years.

City College of San Francisco
Fernando de Sousa/Flickr San Francisco, Calif. Supervisor Gordon Mar is proposing a funding measure for the Nov. 2020 ballot that would allocate $20 million annually to bolster the struggling City College of San Francisco. (Fernando de Sousa/Flickr)

Mar said the fund expands on the Public Education Enrichment Fund, which sets aside money from the general fund for preschool programs and for the San Francisco Unified School District. Voters approved the funding measure back in March 2004.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, CCSF had cut 300 courses from the spring semester schedule with more courses potentially on the chopping block next year as the state reckons with a $54 billion budget deficit, said Dianna Gonzales, interim chancellor of CCSF.

Noting how community colleges have been the “lynchpin” during hard economic times, Gonzales said:

“My concern is if history repeats itself, when the recessions hit, that is when our enrollment grows, but that is when we are least funded. We want to break that crazy cycle we need to and we want to be there to support this community.”

Gonzales added:

“We want to be there to support all of our students. We don’t want to be in a position where we’re turning students away.”

<a>Garrick Wong</a>/SFBay Students and supporters of free City College and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), wait in line to see the senator speak at an event held at City College of San Francisco on Friday, Sept. 22, 2017.

CCSF nursing student Mei Yang said she’s relied on the college courses since arriving in the U.S. in 2009 when she began taking ESL classes. Now well into a nursing educations, Yang said:

“Without CCSF, my dream of becoming a registered nurse wouldn’t be possible.”

Lt. Hashim Anderson with the San Francisco Fire Department also credits the college for allowing to him to achieve his career path.

Anderson said:

“It wasn’t until I started taking classes at City College then I realized there were not only great classes and instruction that can help you get to that goal, there was a pretty clear and direct pathway that you could follow in order to get to where I am today.”

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