The San Diego Community College District’s (SDCCD) Board of Trustees has adopted a $780-million budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year that continues to emphasize student access and success while addressing the unprecedented challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The budget includes $448 million in general fund spending and $332 million in other funds, representing a $24.6 million overall increase compared to the 2019‐20 budget. Most of this year’s increase – $22.7 million – is from COVID-19 related stimulus funds to provide direct aid to students impacted by the pandemic and funding to ensure continuity of instructional operations in a remote manner.
Among the budget’s highlights:
The SDCCD anticipates receiving $2.6 million from the state to help support the district’s tuition-free San Diego Promise, which attracted a record 2,045 freshmen this fall at City, Mesa, and Miramar colleges.
The federal CARES Act provided $13.7 million to address COVID-19 related student, academic and operational issues. Fifty percent of that amount, or a total of $6,869,858, is being directed toward financial aid to students and the remaining 50% will help cover other academic and institutional costs directly tied to the impacts of the pandemic.
A hiring freeze initiated during the 2019-20 fiscal year will continue, with only critical positions being filled.
Next year’s 2021-22 budget may be even more challenging. While the California budget signed into law on June 30 did not include immediate funding cuts, it deferred $1.54 billion in funding to California’s community college districts, which will significantly impact cash flow and will result in a need for short‐term borrowing in order for districts to meet their annual financial obligations.
“The pandemic has had massive impacts on the health and safety of virtually everyone in the state resulting in a major shift in the state’s economic condition,” said Bonnie Ann Dowd, the SDCCD’s Executive Vice Chancellor, Business and Technology Services. “The state anticipated the current fiscal year to begin with a sizeable state surplus; however, due to the pandemic that surplus almost immediately disappeared and became a $54 billion state deficit, which will impact all 73 districts in the system. Therefore, all districts must demonstrate fiscal restraint in developing its budget during this time of economic uncertainty.”
To address the state’s deficit, its 2020‐21 budget did not include any new spending other than that which is related to the COVID‐19 pandemic. It also preserved funding for most community college programs at 2019‐20 levels with no cost‐of‐living‐adjustment (COLA), growth funding, or additional one‐time funding.