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College of Marin in California adjusts to financial squeeze that has led to fewer course offerings, higher student fees

Marin Independent Journal

College of Marin president David Wain Coon

With community colleges throughout the state decimated by state budget problems in recent years, College of Marin has fared better than many. However, the school is increasingly feeling the effects of a financial squeeze that has led to cuts in course offerings, higher student fees and a drop in enrollment.

Hit by declining state funding and stagnant property taxes, the college began the fall semester with 22 fewer course sections, part of a plan to cut $1.2 million from a $70.1 million budget.

Even after the cut the deficit is $2.2 million this year, double last year's gap. The college plans to cut millions of dollars more in the next few years.

"God willing, the economy will get better and maybe we won't have to make as many cuts, but this is where we are," said Sara McKinnon, who teaches English as a Second Language and heads the Academic Senate.

Faced with a plan to eliminate more courses in the spring and summer, McKinnon and her colleagues have been meeting to weigh priorities and decide where the ax will fall next.

"We are doing our best to make the impact less on students," she said.
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