Sierra College looks at ways to keep threatened vocational courses

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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The Sierra College board is asking the school’s administrator to work with automotive, agriculture and construction programs on ways to keep them going in the wake of threatened closures due to budget cuts. Board members on Tuesday voted on resolutions that allow the school to issue layoff notices March 15 that would trigger potential discontinuance of the programs July 1. But the board also signaled to college President Leo Chavez that they want staff to work together on potential ways to keep the programs running – likely at reduced levels. Trustees also decided to take no action on a resolution that would have discontinued seven of the school’s smaller athletic programs. The men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s tennis, women’s track and cross country and men’s water polo teams are attempting to continue without college funding. The board is trying to close a projected $10.7 million funding gap in the 2010-11 fiscal year. The annual budget is an estimated $87 million – down from $91 million this year and $97 million in 2008-09. Supporters of threatened Sierra College programs filled Dietrich Theater for a lengthy board session that started at 4 p.m. and adjourned at 11:30 p.m. Chavez said at the meeting that the cuts were tough to make and the voting Tuesday on the vocational programs weren’t to necessarily discontinue them but to allow the college to give layoff notices March 15.