The City College of San Francisco Mission District campus. Photo by Mission Local staff.

The union representing City College of San Francisco instructors and Supervisor Hillary Ronen held a virtual rally Friday to protest budget cuts to the school and potential layoffs of almost 200 faculty members.

More than 500 educators, leaders, students, and other community members tuned into an hourlong Zoom press conference during which speakers condemned layoffs that would potentially gut nearly one-third of the college’s current full-time faculty and nearly 75 percent of its current administrators. 

The college started handing out pink slips to 163 full-time faculty and 34 administrators from departments like nursing, aircraft maintenance, English as a Second Language, and Philippines Studies on March 3. 

“If our college is dismantled, where are educational opportunities for San Francisco’s most vulnerable?” said Mary Bravewoman, vice president of American Federation of Teachers Local 2121 union, and a mathematics professor and a former student at City College. “This will affect tens of thousands of students who rely on City College as a lifeline.” 

Bravewoman said that the individuals who received pink-slips included about a dozen counselors who serve thousands of students and faculty members who “represent 20 to 40 students per class that won’t be served.”

In response, City College officials referred Mission Local to a statement the school made on March 9. It said City College began issuing certain faculty “preliminary layoff notices” which started on March 3 and would do so until March 15. Final layoff notices will come May 15. 

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The move comes as the City College of San Francisco Board of Trustees aim to trim the school’s budget, which “called for a reduction in employee salary costs and other expenditures,” a statement from the college said. 

The college faces a $33 million shortfall for the 2021-22 fiscal year, which partially arose from retiree health care liability costs that cost nearly $11 million, other employee welfare costs, and “deficit spending for at least 10 years.” The statement said the college already withdrew $21 million from a trust reserved for retirees to pay off costs in the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school year. 

“These reductions, while painful, are necessary to ensure the long-term stability of the College, not just for the current generation of students, but for generations to come,” the statement said. About 4,500 class sections will be offered next year. 

Already, City College has endured a myriad of issues during the past decade, including serious underfunding and threats to lose official accreditation. Problems worsened in 2020, when the college, like others, fell short of its ideal enrollment goals, the college said. More than 800 classes were slashed from the 2020-21 year, and the Board of Trustees also voted to shut down the college’s Fort Mason campus, which provided a multitude of arts classes up until last fall, the SF Examiner reported

This was alarming news for students, community members, and city officials alike, who described City College as an indispensable institution that educates thousands of marginalized San Francisco residents. According to City College demographic data, at least 73 percent are ethnic minorities. Many low-income students flock to it as well for the free tuition; others come for the noncredit classes, which are populated mostly by Latinx and Asian adults over 40.

Honey Mahogany, a legislative aide to District 6 Supervisor Matt Haney, said this diversity needs to be upheld.

“These numbers show us how essential City College is to this city. That is a good thing. And it is something that we all have to work hard to maintain and defend,” she said.

Supervisor Hillary Ronen added that City College has made itself and its campus available to the entire city countless times before, especially in times of need. She pointed out that it was the first location designated to disseminate mass vaccinations

For this reason, Ronen, who had called for the conference along with the teachers’ union, said she would work “hand in hand” with the community to save the college. 

“It is not okay at the time when we need City College most [to] be laying off faculty, even [those] that have fully enrolled classes,” Ronen said. “This does not make sense. We cannot let this stand.” 

Eira Kien, a low-income City College of San Francisco student, agreed. “CCSF emboldened me and made me believe in myself,” Kien said. “I call on CCSF trustees to do the work with us. City College can change people’s lives. It needs to be expanded, not dismantled.”


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REPORTER. Annika Hom is our inequality reporter through our partnership with Report for America. Annika was born and raised in the Bay Area. She previously interned at SF Weekly and the Boston Globe where she focused on local news and immigration. She is a proud Chinese and Filipina American. She has a twin brother that (contrary to soap opera tropes) is not evil.

Follow her on Twitter at @AnnikaHom.

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  1. Disinvestment in Community College is a disinvestment in community. We all know what happens when there is disinvestment in community. The long term effects last for decades and lifetimes. Mayor London Breed often speaks of the impact of community disinvestment, well, it’s happening today at CCSF. So, what does she have to say about the long term effects of disinvestment these actions will have on our community.

    Do the retirees receiving the pensions and benefits that are currently responsible for draining CCSF and shutting down classes, care that the college will fail or close its doors while they all continue receiving full benefits? Will they continue to receive benefits if the college shuts down and runs out of money?
    The thinning down and closure of CCSF must be stopped.

    Stop the disinvestment of our community and continue the money bucket of retirement resources by keeping CCSF running and growing. San Francisco needs to invest in community college to experience the benefits for decades and lifetimes ahead.

    Put your money where your mouth is San Francisco and invest in community college.

  2. Rafael Mandelman, for one, was a terrible City College Trustee. He ignored discriminatory complaint issues I personally spoke to brought to his attention; and this was a guy whose first campaign I worked on. Once their in office politicians like Mandelman forget that without volunteers such as myself they would never be where they are today. In addition as my Supervisor he has ignored my constituent calls for help for more than six months, more than six of them.
    Time for a recall.

  3. I attended the College in the 80’s and now my granddaughter is attending there. This City funds many causes and City College must be another one of them. Please consider the need to educate my granddaughter who cannot afford State and University tuitions. Save the last affordable institution in this City.
    Thank you.

  4. The article cites the real reason for the layoffs – the inflated cost of staff pensions and healthcare provision. For years the unions have demanded excessive benefit packages and the politicians have granted them. Now the chickens have come home to roost because the long-term costs of providing healthcare and pensions to ageing boomers is crippling institutions. We will see this more and more in the future.

  5. The courses they are cutting — are any necessary for a degree elsewhere? How many people total will miss these offerings? I really do feel for all the professors but there’s a huge budget shortfall and with cratering enrollment they do need to trim their offerings. I’ve been to many community colleges in my life and none offered the panoply of courses given through CCSF. I am guessing that even with these courses cut, it will still be providing a much more expansive catalog than in 97% of CCs.

  6. Protests over what ?
    90% of the CCSF Budget is related to staffing.
    Enrollment has crashed at CCSF these last 2 years with a massive reduction just in 2019 that was made worse in 2020. Over the 10 years prior to 2019 the student Headcount went from 100k to 65k , and the population of SF continues to age which will further reduce enrollment.
    It would have been helpful if the author had been less of a teachers advocate , and more of a reporter who could have provided a clear picture why the cuts are being pursued by CCSF.

  7. Campers,

    Isn’t this the public school paying administrators a quarter million?

    Didn’t they part with last head cause of that?

    When it all shakes down some hawk like Eskenazi will reveal that this has been a land grab over the years in stages.

    I recall around 15 years ago they constructed some kind of unneeded roadway there.

    Why isn’t Mandelman the point on this?

    Wasn’t he a Trustee there for years?

    Go Giants!


    1. Yea but the Author omitted the fact that over the last 10 years since the 2018/2019 Class that enrollment has been reduced from 100k to 65k. Headcount was greatly reduced since then , and if you look at the CCSF budget you will see it’s 90% related to staffing.
      If Congress opts to cover the cost of enrollment at City Colleges that might effect the budget, and headcount.