The long will-they-or-won’t-they ordeal involving the City College of?San Francisco and the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges has ended. As ACCJC announced this week, it is yanking the troubled school’s accreditation as of July 2014. Paul Basken of The Chronicle better Education reports that the commission has decided the steps taken by City College just weren’t enough to allow the practically insolvent school to dig itself out.
Although President of the American Federation of Teachers Local 2121 Alisa Messer called the decision both surprising and outrageous, in reality, City College’s fate has been hanging with a thread for a long time. Messer points out the school has been moving forward having a plan to right itself financially yet still time maintaining good student performance.
Yet, as Basken points out, whatever steps City College might take wouldn’t place it in the black by 2014-15 academic year. Even with an increase in local and state aid, the revenues weren’t going to be enough to cover the school’s operating budget. After viewing the most recent projections, the commission decided that enough was enough and pulled the plug.
The president from the accrediting agency, Barbara A. Beno, said in a letter announcing its decision that the City College “and lots of of its staff have worked very hard to slowly move the institution forward.” Still, Ms. Beno said, the school “would need more time and more cohesive institutionwide effort” to satisfy accrediting standards.
The decision leaves the school, its 85,000 students, its 2,600 faculty members, as well as their surrounding state in a sudden and difficult bind. Regaining accreditation on its own through appeals or further reform looms as a long shot. Merging with an accredited institution is fraught with improbabilities. And the college seems to be too large to just shut down entirely.
Not that the College is quitting quite yet. According to Basken, administrators have already announced their intention to appeal and at the same time published a plan to employ a more powerful trustee to oversee the institution in the coming years. What happens next, however, is still a mystery.
In the only real similar instance in state history, Compton College was absorbed into El Camino College after Compton?lost its accreditationin 2005. The City College comes with some candidates among neighboring community colleges, but none of a comparable size, making such an acquisition risky for that accreditation and survival associated with a institutions that might attempt it.
Another option might be a “creative alliance” with a different type of institution, like a state college or perhaps a private college, said Robert M. Shireman, director of California Competes, a nonprofit group of business and civic leaders.