State’s Community Colleges Spend Millions on Duplicative Administrators

Tim Goral's picture
Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The state’s 72 community college districts spend tens of millions of dollars on administrative positions that could be consolidated or shared by districts a short drive away, a California Watch analysis has found.

In the wake of huge budget shortfalls, California’s vast community college system has reduced its core academic functions – slashing millions of dollars by eliminating nearly a quarter of class sections, cutting services and laying off employees. At the start of the fall 2012 semester, more than 470,000 students had been waitlisted for classes at community colleges statewide. But millions of dollars still are spent on duplicative administrative costs.

More than half of the state’s community college districts are within 20 miles of another district. And the vast majority of those districts have a single college. If these districts shared administrators, they potentially could shave millions off their expenses.

Take the Riverside, Mt. San Jacinto and Desert community college districts, all in Riverside County. Together, they operate five colleges with three chancellor’s offices, three human resources departments, three finance offices, three facilities departments and three academic affairs offices, not to mention three boards of trustees.

The cost of employing the 15 executives who lead these departments, plus one or two support staff for each, totals nearly $6 million. The cost of running the three boards, including elections, legal support, stipends, benefits, support staff and travel expenses, equals nearly $1.7 million, records show.

The three districts employed more than 130 executives in total in 2010.

If the three districts could consolidate and whittle their bureaucracies down to one chancellor, one board and one head of each big administrative office, the savings would total $4.9 million – money that could, for example, pay for 960 additional class sections.

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