City College of San Francisco, California's largest college with an enrollment in excess of 90,000, may face closure by March due largely to money management issues.
The community college received a letter from the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges on Tuesday citing "leadership weaknesses at all levels," and ordering the college to "show cause" why its accreditation should be continued by March 15, 2013. Should the school lose its accreditation, it would become ineligible for state funding, almost certainly resulting in its closure.
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The school must submit a game plan to the commission by October 15.
The letter was the result of a report by a commission evaluation team, which visited the college in March.
In the report, the team noted four main concerns regarding the sustainability of the school: insufficient administrative staff size and experience level, an insufficient funding base, a failure to conduct audits and provide reports in a timely manner and a failure to address deficiencies noted by the commission in 2006.
The report claimed noted that the school is without a sustainable funding plan, and revealed that 92 percent of its budget is spent on salaries and benefits.
"The remaining 8 percent is simply not adequate for all other operations and maintenance," stated the commission.
While a huge state deficit has squeezed all California schools, City College of San Francisco is one of the only colleges in the state in such a dire position. The San Jose Mercury News reported:
While the college has seen reduced funding in recent years, [Commission President] Beno said all schools in the state have faced similar problems, yet only three of the state's 112 community colleges are in precarious positions. The other two schools in trouble are College of the Redwoods in Eureka and Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo.
Officials at City College have acknowledged the gravity of the situation, but claim that the apocalyptic predictions have been overstated.
"The doomsday speculation […] is probably more to the overheated imagination of some headline writer," said City College spokesman Larry Kamer in an interview with ABC. "This is a very serious situation, there's no question about it. But we're just not going to let it happen."
City College was in the spotlight earlier this year when records revealed that college trustees had been skipping board meetings, yet were still being paid.
"It's never come up or been brought to our attention," Board President John Rizzo, who hasn't missed meetings, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "We certainly have some qualms about people missing meetings."
According to ABC, the school's chancellor has already assigned an "accreditation SWAT team" to address the school's issues.
"The ultimate responsibility rests with the trustees, administration, faculty and staff to reinvent City College so that it can continue to achieve its important mission," said Commission Interim Chancellor Pamila Fisher in a statement to the Chronicle. "But in a more cost-effective and efficient way."
Watch ABC's video for more on the possible closure: