SACRAMENTO, (AP) — Students at California community colleges could see additional class options for short summer and winter sessions under a bill that passed the state Assembly on Monday, but those courses would come with a higher price tag.
The measure from Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara, would allow community colleges to make courses available between the traditional fall and spring semesters. It does not provide additional state funding to pay for the extra classes.
Fees for the classes authorized under AB955 would be charged at nonresident rates. The average cost is $200 per unit, compared with $46 for state-subsidized credits during traditional semesters.
Class offerings at California community colleges have been reduced as a result of state budget cuts, Williams said. Proposals to restore money for higher education would reinstate only part of the $1.5 billion cut from those colleges.
He cited a March report from the Public Policy Institute of California that found 600,000 students have been turned away from state community colleges.
With the additional course offerings, students could take a high-demand class without waiting another semester or year, allowing them to complete their degrees sooner and freeing up spaces for other students during the regular semester, Williams said.
"We must recognize the reality that the existing system is not meeting students' needs," he said.
Opponents say the higher fees for certain sessions would restrict course availability to those who can afford the extra cost.
"To say it's OK to charge some students one tuition level and others another, to me is just not what it means to have a college system that serves all the students in the state of California," said Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo.
The Assembly approved the legislation Monday on a 48-12 vote, over objections from some Democrats and one Republican. It now heads to the Senate for consideration.