August 07, 2020.
It is no surprise that adult education remains resilient at North Orange County Regional Consortium (NOCRC), even as the global pandemic crisis reprioritizes California’s spending plans. When it comes to adapting, we have plenty of practice.
Though the region’s programs will have to tighten their budgets, and some strategies may have to be removed or put on hold for the next year, our essential adult education programs remain essential. Students will continue to find the critical instruction and support they need in these challenging times.
A little background: As you may know, in early June, the state was preparing for an estimated 10 percent reduction for the next fiscal year, resulting in a $1.5 billion loss for the California Community Colleges system. In our region, NOCRC was set to cut $487,350, a 12.1 percent reduction.
In the latest revised budget, those cuts have been deferred. However, districts will now have to front that money in exchange for IOUs that won’t be paid back until the following fiscal year. And, while deferments are better than outright cuts, the potential for more significant future budget cuts remains.
So, like every community college in the state, our consortium is abiding by our District’s guidelines to be financially prudent and safeguard our future. Some aspects have been particularly burdensome, like being unable to renew contracts for some of our valued colleagues and postponing or eliminating some successful strategies. Collectively, we did the best we could with a difficult situation. We hope to bring back many of these positions and programs when funding becomes more secure.
Despite these challenges, this is the time to remain strong. More than ever, our students need us to help them retrain, learn critical skills, and earn workforce certifications. Thanks to the dedication and passion of our instructors, administrators, and support staff, we will continue to serve our adult learners in the fall semester with virtual instruction.
Our online offerings remain strong, with classes available in English as a Second Language (ESL), Career Technical Education (CTE), programs for adults with disabilities, high school diploma and GED courses, and parenting. All of these offerings are now live in an online platform, with critical support services available for our students.
As always, our adult learners are receiving the resources they need to be successful, with some additional support put in place to bolster virtual learning. For example, at North Orange Continuing Education (NOCE), they have created a new student laptop loan program as well as an emergency food voucher program to support students during COVID-19 closures. These resources allow students to gain crucial basic needs and tools to successfully complete their higher education goals. Meanwhile, with social distancing guidelines in place, our member colleges at Cypress and Fullerton have opened specific parking lots to provide sustained Wi-Fi access to those who need it.
Our top priority has always been to provide the necessary education for our students to reach their goals, grow personally and professionally, and break down barriers to opportunity. Going forward, the NOCRC will focus on remaining financially conscious while still providing the vital services our adult learners require. No matter what tomorrow may bring, we will always find a way to aid our students and community.
With support from the NOCRC, adult learners can safely pursue their educational careers, seeking security for themselves and their families, now and well into the future.